Title:
Mobility communications system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method of wireless communication includes establishing a wireless connection with a first access point via a wireless protocol in a first sub-network by a wireless electronic device. A network address is assigned to the wireless electronic device having a telephone address. The wireless electronic device roams from the first sub-network to a second sub-network. The wireless connection is automatically disconnected with the first access point, and the wireless connection is seamlessly established with a second access point in the second sub-network. A new network address is assigned to the wireless electronic device at the second sub-network. Alternatively the network address is still assigned to the wireless electronic device at the second sub-network.



Inventors:
Wojaczynski, David (Mission Viejo, CA, US)
Mccloskey, Andrew (Yorba Linda, CA, US)
Swonk, Glenn (Laguna Niguel, CA, US)
Astarabadi, Shaun (Laguna Niguel, CA, US)
Baba, Shinichi (Morristown, NJ, US)
Application Number:
10/299312
Publication Date:
10/14/2004
Filing Date:
11/18/2002
Assignee:
TOSHIBA AMERICA INFORMATION SYSTEMS, INC.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
455/426.1, 455/433, 455/560, 370/401
International Classes:
H04L12/28; H04L12/56; H04L29/06; H04W36/14; H04L29/08; H04W40/02; H04W80/04; H04W92/02; (IPC1-7): H04Q7/20; H04L12/56
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, DUC M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Pillsbury Winthrop, Llp Eric Chen (Suite 1200, Los Angeles, CA, 90017, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A mobility communications system, comprising: a local area network (LAN) backbone; a private branch exchange (PBX) system in communication with a public switched telephone network (PSTN); a gateway in communication with the PBX system and the LAN backbone; a mobility communications system (MCS) server in communication with the LAN backbone; a first sub-network, including a first node server in communication with the LAN backbone, and at least one first access point in communication with the first node server; a second sub-network, including a second node server in communication with the LAN backbone, and at least one second access point in communication with the second node server; and a wireless electronic device having a wireless connection with the at least one first access point of the first sub-network via a wireless protocol, wherein when the wireless electronic device roams from the first sub-network into the second sub-network, the wireless connection with the first access point is automatically disconnected and seamlessly re-connected with the at least one second access point of the second sub-network.

2. The mobility communications system according to claim 1, wherein the gateway provides real-time two-way communications between a PBX protocol of the PBX system and an Internet Protocol (IP) of the LAN backbone.

3. The mobility communications system according to claim 1, wherein the wireless electronic device is selected from the group consisting of a personal digital assistant (PDA), a notebook computer, a tablet computer, a cellular telephone, an Internet Protocol (IP)-based wireless telephone handset, and a portable computer.

4. The mobility communications system according to claim 1, wherein the wireless electronic device utilizes Mobile Internet Protocol (IP) for data communication and Session Initiated Protocol-Mobile (SIP-M) for voice communication.

5. The mobility communications system according to claim 1, wherein the wireless electronic device is adapted to simultaneously communicate wirelessly data and voice.

6. The mobility communications system according to claim 1, wherein the MCS server assigns a network address to the wireless electronic device when the wireless electronic device is in the first sub-network, and the MCS server assigns a new network address to the wireless electronic device when the wireless electronic device roams from the first sub-network to the second sub-network.

7. The mobility communications system according to claim 1, wherein the MCS server assigns a network address to the wireless electronic device when the wireless electronic device is in the first sub-network; and the MCS server assigns the network address to the wireless electronic device when the wireless electronic device roams from the first sub-network to the second sub-network.

8. The mobility communications system according to claim 1, wherein the wireless electronic device includes a telephone address and a corresponding network address.

9. The mobility communications system according to claim 8, wherein the network address is an alias address.

10. The mobility communications system according to claim 9, wherein the alias address is a uniform resource locator (URL) address.

11. The mobility communications system according to claim 8, wherein the network address is an Internet Protocol (IP) address.

12. The mobility communications system according to claim 8, wherein the telephone address is a PBX extension telephone number.

13. The mobility communication system according to claim 1, wherein at least one of RADIUS and DIAMETER extensions are utilized for secure communication while roaming

14. The mobility communication system according to claim 1, wherein the MCS server further includes simple network management protocol (SNMP) management system that performs user management, server management, node server management, call feature management, enterprise integration configuration, policy definition and enforcement, event monitoring, and general and specific reporting.

15. The mobility communication system according to claim 14, wherein the SNMP management system has a web interface.

16. The mobility communication system according to claim 14, wherein the SNMP management system is accessed from other SNMP-based tools.

17. The mobility communications system according to claim 1, wherein the MCS server, the first node server, the second node server, and the wireless communications device each include a Quality of Service (QOS) module to ensure that data users utilize a specific bandwidth.

18. The mobility communications system according to claim 1, wherein the wireless communications device includes advanced call features, including call hold, transfer, forward, forward to voice mail, conference call, and intra-enterprise call receiving/transmitting

19. A mobility communications system, comprising: at least one first access point in a first sub-network adapted to communicate wirelessly via a wireless protocol; a mobility communications system (MCS) node server in communication with the first access point; a wireless electronic device having a wireless connection with the at least one first access point via the wireless protocol, the wireless electronic device including a telephone address and a network address; a mobility communications system (MCS) server in communication with the at least one first access point and a public switched telephone network (PSTN), the MCS server including a table of the network address of the wireless electronic device corresponding to the telephone address of the wireless electronic device, wherein when the wireless electronic device roams from the first sub-network to a second sub-network, the wireless connection with the at least one first access point is automatically disconnected and seamlessly re-connected with at least one second access point of the second sub-network.

20. The mobility communications system of claim 19, wherein the wireless electronic device is assigned a new network address at the second sub-network.

21. The mobility communications system of claim 19, wherein the wireless electronic device is assigned the network address at the second sub-network.

22. The mobility communications system of claim 19, wherein the wireless connection with the at least one first access point is automatically disconnected and seamlessly re-connected with the at least one second access point of the second sub-network based on variable business rules, including as signal strength, quality of service, and cost.

23. The mobility communications system according to claim 19, wherein the MCS server assigns the network address to the wireless electronic device when the wireless electronic device is in the first sub-network, and the MCS server assigns the new network address to the wireless electronic device when the wireless electronic device roam from the first sub-network to the second sub-network.

24. The mobility communications system according to claim 19, wherein the network address is an alias address.

25. The mobility communications system according to claim 24, wherein the alias address is a uniform resource locator (URL) address.

26. The mobility communications system according to claim 19, wherein the network address is an Internet Protocol (IP) address.

27. The mobility communications system according to claim 19, wherein the wireless electronic device is selected from the group consisting of a personal digital assistant (PDA), a notebook computer, a tablet computer, a cellular telephone, an Internet Protocol (IP)-based wireless telephone handset, and a portable computer.

28. The mobility communications system according to claim 19, wherein the telephone address is a private branch exchange (PBX) extension telephone number.

29. The mobility communications system according to claim 19, wherein the wireless electronic device utilizes Mobile Internet Protocol (IP) for data communication and Session Initiated Protocol-Mobile (SIP-M) for voice communication.

30. The mobility communications system according to claim 19, wherein the wireless electronic device utilizes Mobile Internet Protocol (IP) for both data communications and for voice communications.

31. The mobility communications system according to claim 19 wherein the wireless electronic device is adapted to simultaneously communicate wirelessly data and voice.

32. The mobility communications system according to claim 19, further including a private branch exchange (PBX) system in communication with the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and the mobility communications system (MCS) server.

33. A method of wireless communication, comprising: establishing a wireless connection with at least one first access point via a wireless protocol in a first sub-network by a wireless electronic device; assigning a network address to the wireless electronic device having a telephone address; roaming from the first sub-network to a second sub-network; disconnecting automatically the wireless connection with the at least one first access point; establishing seamlessly the wireless connection with at least one second access point in the second sub-network; and assigning a new network address to the wireless electronic device at the second sub-network.

34. The method according to claim 33, further including updating a table having the network address of the wireless electronic device with the new network address corresponding to the telephone address of the wireless electronic device.

35. The method according to claim 33, wherein the wireless electronic device is selected from the group consisting of a personal digital assistant (PDA), a notebook computer, a tablet computer, a cellular telephone, an Internet Protocol (IP)-based wireless telephone handset, and a portable computer.

36. The method according to claim 33, further including utilizing Mobile Internet Protocol (IP) for data communication and utilizing Session Initiated Protocol-Mobile (SIP-M) for voice communication.

37. The method according to claim 33, wherein the telephone address is a private branch exchange (PBX) extension telephone number.

38. The method according to claim 33, further including communicating simultaneously voice data and non-voice data over the wireless connection.

39. A program code storage device, comprising: a machine-readable storage medium; and machine-readable program code, stored on the machine-readable storage medium, having instructions to establish a wireless connection with at least one first access point via a wireless protocol in a first sub-network; receive a network address corresponding to a telephone address; disconnect automatically the wireless connection with the at least one first access point when a wireless electronic device roams from the first sub-network to a second sub-network; establish seamlessly the wireless connection with the at least one second access point in the second sub-network; and receive a new network address at the second sub-network.

40. The program code storage device according to claim 39, wherein the machine-readable program code further includes instructions to update a table having the network address with the new network address corresponding to the telephone address.

41. The program code storage device according to claim 39, wherein the wireless electronic device is selected from the group consisting of a personal digital assistant (PDA), a notebook computer, a tablet computer, a cellular telephone, an Internet Protocol (IP)-based wireless telephone handset, and a portable computer.

42. The program code storage device according to claim 39, wherein the machine-readable program code further includes instructions to utilize Mobile Internet Protocol (IP) for data communication and to utilize Session Initiated Protocol-Mobile (SIP-M) for voice communication.

43. The program code storage device according to claim 39, wherein the telephone address is a private branch exchange (PBX) extension telephone number.

44. The program code storage device according to claim 39, wherein the machine-readable program code further includes instructions to communicate simultaneously voice data and non-voice data over the wireless connection.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] Embodiments of the present invention relate to wireless network communication systems. More particularly, embodiments of the present invention relate to wireless network communication systems that support secured seamless roaming of real-time voice and data communications sessions utilizing portable wireless electronic devices.

[0003] 2. Discussion of the Related Art

[0004] Not long ago, discrete technologies had discrete purposes. Telephones made calls, office-bound computers accessed databases, and personal digital assistants (PDAs) were simple scheduling devices. But the changing, and increasingly mobile, needs of business dictated a new strategy: convergence of business communications technologies into a flexible array of services that can be accessed through the enterprise and beyond, by almost any device.

[0005] Therefore, mobile computing has become more prevalent. In recent years, there has been an increase in the deployment of notebook personal computers (notebook PCs) and PDAs. This deployment is a result of the increasing need for users to be productive in places other than in the office or behind the desk. Companies are requiring more work to be accomplished with less people. Productivity increases are a key metric for wireless return on investment (ROI). Virtual private networks (VPNs) and wired and wireless modems permit secured access to corporate data outside of the office. And, deployments of wireless local area networks (W-LANs) are also increasing in schools and corporate campuses.

[0006] Public W-LANs are emerging as a viable alternative to circuit-switched or packet-switched cellular data connections. Moreover, the convergence of voice and data on the LAN is rapidly occurring. Several companies are pushing toward the widespread adoption of Internet Protocol (IP) telephony. Many intra-offices and intra-enterprises are now migrating from traditional circuit-switched solutions to traffic that are transported and switched as packets or cells. Moreover, the standards governing Voice over IP (VoIP), such as H.323, Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), Power over Ethernet (or Power over LAN), for example, are being finalized and established, which further promotes acceptance and adoption of packet-based communications.

[0007] Personal computers (PCs), PDAs, and other devices are managing more voice and multi-media communications. More telephones are connected to data networks, or LANs, so that in addition to making calls, they can access directories, messaging, and other database information. Whether in and around the office or campus, at home, or somewhere in between, being connected to these voice, data, and other multimedia resources is critical to meeting the new business demands for productivity and responsiveness.

[0008] Accordingly, it is desirable to have a wireless communications system capable of interacting with a voice network, such as a private branch exchange (PBX), and a data network, such as a LAN or Internet, to provide users with secured seamless mobile access to the same resources they would otherwise have at their desks while roaming throughout a community, such as an office or school campus.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] FIG. 1 illustrates a mobility communications system according to an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0010] FIG. 1 illustrates a mobility communications system according to an embodiment of the present invention. A local area network (LAN) backbone 110 provides connectivity between the various components of the mobility communications system 100. At the heart of the mobility communications system 100 is the mobility communications system (MCS) server 140, which provides main control over the entire system 100. A private branch exchange (PBX) system 120, such as the Toshiba™ Strata-CTX system, is connected to a public switched telephone network 102. The PBX system 120 may also have a connection with a time division multiplexing (TDM) network 104 (also known as digital leased lines). A gateway 130, such as a Cisco™ 2600 intelligent media gateway, interconnects the PBX system 120 and the LAN backbone 110. The gateway 130 is a liaison to permit communications between two protocols, for example, between the PBX protocol and the Internet Protocol (IP).

[0011] The mobility communications system 100 is connected to a wide area network (WAN), such as the Internet 106, via a router 150 and a firewall 152. A virtual private network (VPN) server 148 may be included in the mobility communications system 100 to provide security and encryption/decryption capabilities to the system 100 utilizing, for example, the IP Security (IPSec) protocol. A remote authentication dial-in user service (RADIUS) server 156 may be included in the mobility communications system 100 to provide authentication and accounting of users of the system 100. Other authentication protocols and server systems may be implemented as well, and integration with other authentication protocols, such as the Diameter protocol for example, may be implemented. Furthermore, a domain server 154 may be included in the mobility communications system 100 to facilitate access to and from the WAN, such as the Internet 106.

[0012] An applications server 142 may be included in the mobility communications system 100 to store and provide applications to the system 100. A database server 144 may also be included in the mobility communications system 100 to provide database storage and functionality to the system 100. A dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP) and/or a dynamic rapid configuration protocol (DRCP) server 146 is connected to the LAN backbone 110 to assign IP addresses to the nodes of the network.

[0013] A plurality of wireless electronic devices 10, 20, 30, 40 communicate wirelessly with the mobility communication system 100 via a wireless protocol. The wireless electronic devices 10, 20, 30, 40 communicate wirelessly with access points 191, 192, 193, 194, which are preferably radio frequency (RF) transceivers, for example, and which are in communication with a node server 181, 182 via a switch 171, 172. The switch 171, 172 may be connected to a router 160, which is connected to the LAN backbone 110. The switch 171, first node server 181, access points 191, 193, and wireless electronic devices 10, 20 (before roaming) form a first sub-network, or virtual local area network (VLAN 1). The switch 172, second node server 182, access points 192, 194, and wireless electronic devices 20 (after roaming), 30, 40 form a second sub-network, or virtual local area network (VLAN 2).

[0014] Each wireless electronic device 10, 20, 30, 40 is authenticated, accounted, and authorized by the MCS server 140, which relays this information (e.g., via certificates) to the first node server 181 and the second node server 182. Accordingly, when a wireless electronic device 20 moves/roams from one sub-network to another, the wireless electronic device 20 need only communicate and re-authenticate with the corresponding first node server 181 or second node server 182, and the communication path need not go back to the MCS server 140 across the LAN backbone 110. The Protocol for carrying Authentication for Network Access (PANA), may be utilized to provide authentication, accounting, and authorization (AAA) to authenticate clients (i.e., wireless electronic devices) when they roam. PANA is a Layer 3 network authentication protocol that supports secure authentication over wireless connections. PANA supports seamless roaming between sub-networks and between W-LAN and cellular packet-based networks as well.

[0015] The wireless electronic device 20, for example, establishes a wireless connection with an access point 193 in the first sub-network. Accordingly, the wireless electronic device 20 is provided with access to the mobility communications system 100 network and all its resources, including access to the Internet 106 and the PBX system 120. According to an embodiment of the present invention, the wireless electronic device 20 is adapted to function as a wireless telephone having a telephone address or number (or a PBX extension number). The wireless electronic device 20 is capable of accessing all of the PBX functionality of the PBX system 120 as if it was a hardwired telephone, including voice mail, conference calling, call waiting, call forwarding/transferring, directory look-up, etc. Moreover, the wireless electronic device 20 may also be adapted to function like a desktop computer connected to the corporate LAN, including access to the Internet 106, and available software applications.

[0016] According to an embodiment of the present invention, the wireless electronic devices 10, 20, 30, 40 utilize the Session Initiation Protocol-Mobile (SIP-M) for voice communications (packet-based), and utilize the Mobile Internet Protocol (Mobile IP) for data communications. Integration of both the SIP-M and Mobile IP protocols provide greater flexibility to the roaming capabilities of the wireless electronic devices 10, 20, 30, 40. Mobile IP is an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standard protocol that runs on the network layer. Mobile IP permits a wireless PC, wireless PDA, or other mobile node to move from one network link to another without interrupting communications. In an organization with W-LAN, a wireless notebook PC may be physically moved from one building to another, into a new sub-network, without interrupting a file download or video stream, and without requiring the user to renew their network/IP address. SIP-M is an IETF standard protocol for IP communication that initiates information-transfer sessions between applications. Unlike the traditional telecommunications model that operates via a central switching element, SIP-M allows the control of services, like telephony, to be moved to the endpoints of a network in SIP-based PDA, notebook PC, Tablet PC clients or SIP-based mobile phones. SIP-M is flexible and extensible, and supports many different types of applications, including video, telephony, messaging or instant messaging, and collaboration. However, any other suitable protocol or protocols may be utilized, though, for voice communication, data communication, or both.

[0017] A network address is assigned to the wireless electronic device 20 once a wireless connection is established with the access point 193. If the wireless electronic device 20 should roam within the first sub-network to another access point 191, its network address does not change, but the wireless connection is simply disconnected from one access point 193 and re-established with the other access point 191. Various quality of service (QoS) protocols or business rules may be implemented to determine with which access point a wireless electronic device should establish a wireless connection. For example, signal strength and available bandwidth may be factors in the consideration when a wireless electronic device is choosing from among a plurality of access points of which it is within range. In one instance, it may be more preferable to establish a wireless connection with an access point having a poorer signal strength but has a greater availability of bandwidth than compared to an access point having a stronger signal but has 29 other users already connected.

[0018] When the wireless electronic device 20 roams out of range from the access points 191, 193 of a first sub-network and into a second sub-network, the wireless connection with the access point 193 of the first sub-network is automatically disconnected, and seamlessly re-established with a second access point 192 of the second sub-network. In an embodiment utilizing SIP-M for roaming, because the wireless electronic device 20 moved from one sub-network to another, a new network address is assigned to the wireless electronic device 20. In an embodiment utilizing MobileIP for roaming, when the wireless electronic device 20 moves from one subnet to another, a new network address is assigned to the wireless electronic device.

[0019] The MCS server 140 manages a table of network addresses corresponding to, for example, telephone numbers/addresses (e.g., a PBX extension number) of each wireless electronic device 10, 20, 30, 40 on the system 100. The table (e.g., see Table 1 below) may also include an alias, or uniform resource locator (URL) address, e.g., joe.doe@toshiba.com, corresponding to a telephone number or address of a wireless electronic device 10, 20, 30, 40. When the wireless electronic device 20 roams from a first sub-network to a second sub-network, the new network address (or alias/URL address) assigned to the wireless electronic device 20 at the second sub-network is updated in the table. The table permits routing of incoming telephone calls from the PSTN 102 to the wireless electronic devices 10, 20, 30, 40, as well as telephone calls from one wireless electronic device 10, 20, 30, 40 within the system 100 to another, either on the same sub-network or to another sub-network. The table may be forwarded to the first node server 181 and the second node server 182 as well so that a local copy is accessible without having to cross the LAN backbone 110. The wireless electronic devices 10, 20, 30, 40 may also make calls out to the PSTN 102 by dialing a conventional telephone number in the normal fashion, and the wireless electronic devices 10, 20, 30, 40 communicate with the PBX system 120 to make such outgoing calls. 1

TABLE 1
Telephone AddressAlias/URL AddressNetwork Address
x3338joe.doe@toshiba.com111.222.333.4
x3915jane.doe@toshiba.com111.222.333.8

[0020] The MCS server 140 preferably includes a simple network management protocol (SNMP) management system that performs user management, server management, node server management, call feature management, enterprise integration configuration, policy definition and enforcement, event monitoring, and general and specific reporting. SNMP agents may be preferably included with the first node server 181 and the second node server 182 to enable communication with the MCS server 140. The SNMP management system may be a Web-based system having a Web-based interface.

[0021] The MCS server 140, the first node server 181 the second node server 182, and the wireless electronic devices 10, 20, 30, 49, may each include a Quality of Service (QOS) module. The Quality of Service Module may ensure that data users only use a specific bandwidth (of the first node server 181 or the second node server 182 to the access points 192, 193 to client device network 100), reserving the rest of the available bandwidth for voice users. In embodiments of the invention not utilizing QoS, a user could start a voice call with good voice quality but then this voice quality would rapidly degrade if another user opens a large e-mail attachment.

[0022] By utilizing a fast IP address assigning protocol such as DRCP, the roaming of a wireless electronic device 20 from one sub-network to another may be conducted seamlessly with a handoff time of approximately 50-100 milliseconds (ms), or less. Accordingly, the handoff time is so short that the disconnection from one sub-network and re-connection with another is unnoticeable by users carrying on a voice conversation, for example, with the wireless electronic device 10, 20, 30, 40. The wireless electronic device 10, 20, 30, 40 is preferably any electronic device having telephony features (i.e., a speaker and a microphone), and may be any suitable device, such as a PDA, a notebook PC, a tablet PC, a cellular or mobile telephone (e.g., an IEEE 802.11b “Wi-Fi” IP telephone (an H.323 telephone)), an Internet Protocol (IP)-based Wireless telephone handset, a portable computer, etc. Moreover, the wireless electronic device 10, 20, 30, 40 is preferably capable of simultaneous communication of both voice and data over the wireless connection, even while roaming from one sub-network to another.

[0023] Although the mobility communications system 100 illustrated in FIG. 1 shows a local area network (LAN) implementation, the system 100 may be implemented even more broadly on a global/wide area network (WAN) scale, such that each sub-network may constitute a radio cell much like cellular telephone networks (and may even utilizing existing cellular telephone network infrastructure), thus greatly expanding the wireless functionality of the wireless electronic devices 10, 20, 30, 40 to all corners of the world.

[0024] The wireless electronic devices 10, 20, 30, 40 may include advanced call features. Advanced call features may include call holding, transferring, forwarding, forwarding to voice mail, conference calling, etc. These are not typically associated with what non-telephone system devices can do, which is usually to just make and receive a call. Another advanced call feature is the ability to use internal four or five digit calling capability to receive or transmit calls within the business enterprise.

[0025] While the description above refers to particular embodiments of the present invention, it will be understood that many modifications may be made without departing from the spirit thereof The accompanying claims are intended to cover such modifications as would fall within the true scope and spirit of the present invention. The presently disclosed embodiments are therefore to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive, the scope of the invention being indicated by the appended claims, rather than the foregoing description, and all changes that come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are therefore intended to be embraced therein.