« PreviousContinue »
HOST SSP SWITCH PLACES OUTGOING CALL TO
EACH NUMBER REMAINING ON LIST OF NUMBERS
TO BE SIMULTANEOUSLY RUNG VIA THE SWITCH
OR GATEWAY ASSOCIATED WITH EACH NUMBER,
CAUSING THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS UNIT
ASSOCIATED WITH EACH NUMBER TO RING
PARTY TO FIRST
HOST SSP SWITCH
NOTIFIES EACH SWITCH
OR GATEWAY THAT CALL
EACH SWITCH OR GATEWAY SENDS MESSAGE TO ASSOCIATED
TELECOMMUNICATIONS UNIT NOTIFYING EACH UNIT THAT
COMMUNICATION FROM CALLING PARTY IS CONNECTED ON
FIRST TELECOMMUNICATIONS UNIT TO BE ANSWERED
SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR PROVIDING
A TELECOMMUNICATIONS EXTENSION
SERVICE FOR MULTIPLE
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to telecommunications services and, more particularly, to systems and methods for providing a telecommunications extension service for 10 multiple telecommunications units.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Increasingly in today's society, a need exists for individu- 15 als to "stay in touch," whether it is with business contacts, co-workers, friends, or family members. Primary avenues for individuals to stay in touch are the telecommunications networks, both wireline and wireless. These telecommunication methods have certain drawbacks, however. Significantly, if an 20 individual is not sufficiently proximate to their telecommunication device, the individual cannot answer an incoming call before it stops ringing, in which case the call often goes unanswered. The advent of answering machines and voice messaging systems has ameliorated this problem, but even 25 these technological advancements are not acceptable for all situations.
Individuals who do utilize mobile wireless telecommunications devices and wireline telecommunications devices typically have separate directory numbers for each device. 30 However, being associated with multiple directory numbers has certain drawbacks. In particular, potential callers generally have difficulty remembering or otherwise keeping up with somebody's mobile directory numbers and wireless directory numbers, resulting in the potential caller calling the 35 one directory number he or she remembers and not trying to contact the individual at any of the other directory numbers. If the individual is away from the telecommunications device associated with the called directory number, then the call is missed even though the individual may be proximate to 40 another telecommunications device associated with a different directory number previously provided to the potential caller.
One known solution to these problems is the so-called "simultaneous ring" telephone service. According to the typi- 45 cal simultaneous ring service, when a called party receives an incoming call directed to their wireline telephone, telephone devices associated with the wireline telephone ring simultaneously, allowing the called party to answer the most accessible phone. For example, a person may have the simulta- 50 neous ring service established for her home telephone, such that whenever a calling party calls her at home, not only does her home telephone ring, but her wireless telephone also rings. If the wireless telephone is answered first, the incoming call is connected with the wireless telephone, and the ringing 55 to her home telephone is discontinued, whereby the call is connected only to the wireless telephone, and the home telephone cannot be connected with the incoming call after the connection of the incoming call with the wireless telephone. Thus, a person proximate to the home phone who wants to 60 join the call occurring between the calling party and the person at the wireless telephone is prohibited from doing so based on the typical simultaneous ring service.
Accordingly, there exits a need for a simultaneous ring service that can simultaneously ring any number of associ- 65 ated telecommunications devices, and once one of the telecommunication devices is answered, allow a different asso
ciated telecommunication device to join in the call with the calling party and the answered telecommunication device.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention is directed to systems and methods for providing a telecommunications extension service for a service subscriber. The system utilizes the functionality of the Advanced Intelligent Network ("AIN"), and allows the subscriber's designated wireline, wireless, and Internet Protocol ("IP") telecommunications units to serve as extensions of one of the subscriber's telecommunications units designated by the subscriber as the host telecommunications unit.
According to one embodiment of the present invention, the system includes a host switch in communication with a telecommunications unit associated with the subscriber and a service control point in communication with the host switch. The host switch receives an incoming communication from a calling party directed to the telecommunications unit, which is also associated with a plurality of other telecommunications units to be simultaneously rung. Once the host switch receives the incoming communication, the host switch queries the service control point for processing instructions for the incoming communication.
In response to the query, the service control point provides the host switch instructions to place outgoing communications to the telecommunications unit and each of the other telecommunications units to be simultaneously rung. Once the host switch receives the processing instructions from the service control point, the host switch places outgoing communications to the telecommunications unit and each of the other telecommunications units. The first telecommunications unit to be answered is connected by the host switch to the incoming communication and each of the outgoing communications other than the first answered telecommunications unit is then dropped.
After connecting the first telecommunications unit to be answered and dropping all of the other outgoing communications, the host switch connects one of the unanswered telecommunications units to the incoming communication in response to receiving notification from the unanswered telecommunications unit to connect to the incoming communication, while maintaining the connection between the incoming communication and the first telecommunications unit to be answered.
According to another embodiment of the present invention, after the host switch connects the incoming communication with the first telecommunications unit to be answered, the host switch notifies each of the telecommunications units other than the first telecommunications unit to be answered that the incoming communication is connected. Once the host switch detects disconnection of the calling party associated with the incoming communication or the first answered telecommunications unit, the host switch disconnects the incoming communication and notifies each of the telecommunications units other than the first answered telecommunications unit that the call is disconnected.
According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, a system and method are provided in which a subscriber may identify any number of telecommunications units to serve as extensions of one of the subscriber's telecommunications units, designated as the host telecommunications unit. The subscriber may administer the list of numbers to serve as extensions through a voice-driven administration system or through the use of a World Wide Web ("WWW") site. Once the subscriber has identified the list of telecommunications units to serve as extensions, any communications directed
toward the subscriber's host telecommunications unit will cause each of the telecommunications units to be rung simultaneously.
In particular, according to this embodiment of the present invention, when a communication is directed toward the sub- 5 scriber's host telecommunications unit, the list of telecommunications units to serve as extensions of the host telecommunications unit is retrieved. For each of the telecommunications units on the list, an outgoing communication is placed to simultaneously ring these units. The sub- 10 scriber's host telecommunications unit is also rung simultaneously. The first telecommunications unit to be answered is connected to the incoming communication and each of the outgoing communications other than the first answered telecommunications unit is then dropped. After the outgoing 15 communications are dropped, one of the unanswered telecommunications units sends notification to connect to the incoming communication, and in response, the unanswered telecommunications unit is connected to the incoming communication In this manner, any of the telecommunications 20 units designated by the subscriber as the host telecommunications unit or extensions of the host telecommunications can join the incoming communication as long as the communication is connected.
These and other benefits of the present invention will be 25 apparent from the following Detailed Description.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
In the drawings, which are not necessarily drawn to scale, 30 like numerals describe substantially similar components throughout the several views. Like numerals having different letter suffixes represent different instances of substantially similar components. The drawings illustrate generally, by way of example, but not by way of limitation, various 35 embodiments discussed in the present document.
FIG. 1 is a block diagram showing an AIN for integration with a public switched telephone network utilized as an operating environment in one embodiment of the present invention; 40
FIG. 2 is a block diagram showing a system provided according to one embodiment of the present invention; and
FIGS. 3A-3D are flow diagrams showing an illustrative process for providing a telecommunications extension service according to the disclosed embodiment of the present 45 invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED
It is to be understood that the figures and descriptions of the present invention have been simplified to illustrate elements that are relevant for a clear understanding of the present invention, while eliminating, for purposes of clarity, other elements of a conventional telecommunications network. For 55 example, certain operating system details and modules of certain of the intelligent platforms of the network are not described herein. Those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize, however, that these and other elements may be desirable in a typical telecommunications network. However, 60 because such elements are well known in the art, and because they do not facilitate a better understanding of the present invention, a discussion of such elements is not provided herein.
The term "calling party" is used herein generally to refer to 65 the person or unit that initiates a telecommunication. The calling party may also be referred to herein as "caller." In
some cases, the calling party may not be a person, but may be a device such as a facsimile machine, an answering service, a modem, etc. The term "called party" is used herein generally to refer to the person or unit that answers or responds to the call or communication. The term "communication" is used herein to include all messages or calls that may be exchanged between a calling party and a called party, including voice, data and video messages. The term "communication" is used synonymously herein with the term "call" unless a distinction is noted. The term "subscriber" is used herein to generally refer to a subscriber of the described telecommunications service.
The present invention is directed, according to one embodiment, to a system and method for providing a telecommunications extension service for a service subscriber. According to one embodiment of the service, when a calling party places an incoming call to, for example, a residential telephone or some other telecommunications unit that the subscriber has designated as the host telecommunications unit, not only does the subscriber's unit ring, but also other telecommunications units associated with the subscriber. Accordingly, if the subscriber is away from their telecommunications unit, the subscriber does not have to miss the call. According to other embodiments of the present invention, the subscriber may specify any number of wireline, wireless, and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) numbers to be rung when a call is directed to one of the subscriber's telecommunications units designated as the host telecommunications unit.
According to further embodiments, the subscriber may respond to the communication on one of the units, and after the subscriber responds, another party may respond to the same communication on one of the other units associated with the subscriber, resulting in the subscriber and the other party being connected as a conference call to the communication such that the subscriber, other party, and calling party may all engage in the communication. In addition, once one of the telecommunications units is answered, the service notifies the other telecommunications units associated with the subscriber that the call has been connected.
The telecommunications extension service according to an embodiment of the present invention monitors the conference call between the subscriber, other party, and calling party for disconnection of one or more of the units from the call. In response to detecting the disconnection of either the subscriber or the other party, the service disconnects the communication from the disconnecting unit such that the conference call between the calling party and the unit remaining connected to the call is uninterrupted. In response to detecting the disconnection of either the calling party or both the subscriber and the other party, the service disconnects the communication and notifies each of the telecommunications units associated with the service that the communication with the calling party has been disconnected.
In addition, when a call is in progress between the calling party and one of the telecommunications units, the other telecommunications units associated with the service remain fully functional as conventional telecommunications units. For example, if a subscriber is engaged with a calling party on one of the telecommunications units, then the other telecommunications units not involved in the call can be used for other telecommunication purposes, without interfering with the call in progress between the subscriber and the calling party.
According to one embodiment, the system utilizes the intelligent functionality of an Advanced Intelligent Network (AIN). The AIN is a network used in conjunction with a conventional telephone network, such as the Public Switched