Title:
APPARATUS FOR CONTROLLING BROADBAND ACCESS AND DISTRIBUTION OF CONTENT AND COMMUNICATIONS THROUGH AN ACCESS POINT
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method of and a system for broadband/infrastructure providers to set, control, operate a coercive/disruptive controller (CDC) to manage and provide broadband content to an end user device. A controller controls broadband content and communication from a broadband network access device to an end user device. The controller utilizes content-specific quality of service (QoS) parameters and operation logic to selectively process broadband content transmitted to the end user devices. The controller operates independently or is dynamically set and controlled by a remotely coupled controller or server. Broadband content is managed and administered according to the QoS parameters, where the QoS parameters are content specific. As such, the QoS parameters are set/reset, assigned/reassigned based on the broadband content, making the QoS related to the broadband content independent of the content provider.



Inventors:
Ganesan, Vasudevan (Cupertino, CA, US)
Application Number:
14/873961
Publication Date:
01/28/2016
Filing Date:
10/02/2015
Assignee:
VASU NETWORKS CORPORATION
Primary Class:
International Classes:
H04W4/06; H04L12/927; H04W72/12; H04W28/22
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
BLANTON, JOHN D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HAVERSTOCK & OWENS LLP (162 N WOLFE ROAD SUNNYVALE CA 94086)
Claims:
1. An apparatus to selectively process broadband content transmitted to an end user device, the apparatus comprising: a. a controller device to receive one or more simultaneous content streams, wherein each content stream is associated with a specific content provider; and b. a content parameters module to store one or more content parameter values associated with each content provider, wherein each content parameter value defines a quality of service transmission characteristic, wherein the controller device selectively processes a first content stream according to the one or more content parameter values corresponding to a first content provider, thereby generating a first processed content stream that is transmitted to the end user device.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising a transceiver configured for wireless network communications.

3. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising a transceiver configured for wired network communications.

4. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the apparatus comprises a wired router or a wireless router.

5. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the apparatus comprises a wired modem or a wireless modem.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the apparatus comprises a wireless access point.

7. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the apparatus comprises a Wi-Fi access point.

8. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the apparatus comprises a broadband network access point.

9. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the quality of service transmission characteristic defines a level of filtering to be applied to the content stream.

10. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the quality of service transmission characteristic defines a level of priority to be applied to the content stream.

11. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the quality of service transmission characteristic defines a processing rate to be applied to the content stream.

12. A system to selectively process broadband content transmitted to an end user device, the system comprising: a. one or more network access points, each network access point receives one or more simultaneous content streams from a broadband infrastructure provider, wherein each content stream is associated with a specific content provider, wherein each network access point is coupled to one or more end user devices; and b. a control server remotely coupled to the one or more network access points to provide control commands to the one or more network access points, wherein the control commands define one or more content parameter values associated with each content provider, each content parameter value defines a quality of service transmission characteristic, wherein each network access point selectively processes a first content stream according to the one or more content parameter values corresponding to a first content provider, thereby generating a first processed content stream that is transmitted to the one or more end user devices.

13. The system of claim 12 wherein one of the one or more end user devices comprises one of a computer, a television, a telephone, a personal digital assistant, and music players/recorders.

14. The system of claim 12 wherein a first end user device is coupled to a first network access point by a wireless connection.

15. The system of claim 12 wherein a first end user device is coupled to a first network access point by a wired connection.

16. The system of claim 12 further comprising a broadband termination point coupled to a first network access point for receiving the first content data stream from the broadband infrastructure provider and providing the first content data stream to the network access point.

17. The system of claim 16 wherein the network access point and the broadband termination point are included within an integrated device.

18. The system of claim 16 wherein the network access point is coupled to the broadband termination point by a wireless connection.

19. The system of claim 16 wherein the network access point is coupled to the broadband termination point by a wired connection.

20. The system of claim 12 wherein a first network access point comprises a wired router or a wireless router.

21. The system of claim 12 wherein a first network access point comprises a wired modem or a wireless modem.

22. The system of claim 12 wherein a first network access point comprises a wireless access point.

23. The system of claim 12 wherein each network access point further comprises a content parameters module to store the one or more content parameter values associated with each content provider.

24. The system of claim 12 wherein each network access point further comprises a controller to selectively process each content data stream according to the associated content parameter values.

25. A method of selectively processing broadband content transmitted to an end user device, the method comprising: a. providing one or more content streams to a network access point, wherein each content stream is associated with a specific content provider; b. determining a first content provider associated with a first content stream; c. retrieving one or more content parameter values for the first content stream based on the determined first content provider, each content parameter value defines a quality of service transmission characteristic; d. selectively processing the first content stream according to the one or more content parameter values, thereby generating a first processed content stream; and e. transmitting the first processed stream to one or more end user devices coupled to the network access point.

26. The method of claim 25 wherein the quality of service transmission characteristic defines a level of filtering to be applied to the content stream and selectively processing the first content stream comprises filtering the first content stream according to the defined level of filtering.

27. The method of claim 25 wherein the quality of service transmission characteristic defines a level of priority to be applied to the content stream and selectively processing the first content stream comprises processing the first content stream in the priority defined by the level of priority.

28. The method of claim 25 wherein the quality of service transmission characteristic defines a processing rate to be applied to the content stream and selectively processing the first content stream comprises applying the defined processing rate.

29. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the one or more simultaneous content streams comprise broadband content.

30. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the one or more simultaneous content streams comprise secured content.

31. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the one or more simultaneous content streams comprise unsecured content.

32. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the one or more simultaneous content streams comprise streaming video.

33. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the first processed content stream is transmitted to the end user device over a fixed connection comprising a wired device.

34. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the first processed content stream is transmitted to the end user device over a mobile connection comprising a wireless device.

35. The system of claim 12 wherein the one or more simultaneous content streams comprise broadband content.

36. The system of claim 12 wherein the one or more simultaneous content streams comprise secured content.

37. The system of claim 12 wherein the one or more simultaneous content streams comprise unsecured content.

38. The system of claim 12 wherein the one or more simultaneous content streams comprise streaming video.

39. The system of claim 12 wherein the first processed content stream is transmitted to the one or more end user devices over a fixed connection comprising a wired device.

40. The system of claim 12 wherein the first processed content stream is transmitted to the one or more end user devices over a mobile connection comprising a wireless device.

41. The method of claim 25 wherein the one or more content streams comprise broadband content.

42. The method of claim 25 wherein the one or more content streams comprise secured content.

43. The method of claim 25 wherein the one or more content streams comprise unsecured content.

44. The method of claim 25 wherein the one or more content streams comprise streaming video.

45. The method of claim 25 wherein the first processed stream is transmitted to the one or more end user devices over a fixed connection comprising a wired device.

46. The method of claim 25 wherein the first processed stream is transmitted to the one or more end user devices over a mobile connection comprising a wireless device.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority of U.S. provisional application, Ser. No. 60/652,258, filed Feb. 11, 2005, and entitled “METHOD OF AND APPARATUS FOR CONTROLLING BROADBAND ACCESS AND DISTRIBUTION OF CONTENT AND COMMUNICATIONS THROUGH AN ACCESS POINT,” by the same inventors. This application incorporates U.S. provisional application, Ser. No. 60/652,258 in its entirety by reference. This application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/031,498, filed Jan. 6, 2005, and entitled “TELEPHONE WITH AUTOMATIC SWITCHING BETWEEN CELLULAR AND VOIP NETWORKS”, which is hereby incorporated by reference. U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/031,498 claims priority of U.S. provisional application, Ser. No. 60/534,466, filed Jan. 6, 2004, and entitled “RADIOTELEPHONE WITH AUTOMATIC SWITCHING BETWEEN CELLULAR AND WI-FI NETWORKS USING WI-FI SIGNAL STRENGTH VALUES”, the content of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a method of and an apparatus for controlling broadband access and distribution of content and communications through an access point. In particular, the present invention relates to a method of and apparatus for controlling the quality of content provided over a broadband infrastructure through an access point to a plurality of end user network devices.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Current broadband transmission occurs from broadband infrastructure providers to end users via such infrastructure as telephone DSL, TV cable, satellite, etc. Broadband content, such as movies, music, TV shows, web access, etc., that is transmitted over the broadband transmission infrastructure is provided by content providers. Some broadband infrastructure providers determine which content providers can provide content over their networks. For example, a cable television service provider determines which channels, such as HBO, ESPN, or CNN, are available to their end user customers.

Current state of the art of QoS (Quality of Service) is available for the broadband transmission infrastructure, that is the physical infrastructure from the broadband infrastructure service provider location to end user premise located broadband network devices, such as a DSL/cable termination, DSL/cable modem, wireless/wired router, or general access point. The QoS is applied to the physical transmission medium, and as such, the quality of all content provided over any given physical medium is dependent on the QoS of that given physical medium. All content provided over the given physical medium is subject to the same QoS.

However, the broadband infrastructure provider has no control over the actual content that is provided by the content providers. The broadband infrastructure provider may wish to manage, or even block, certain content within the content provided by the content provider, but is unable to modify the content provided. A QoS is not available for broadband “content”, especially from the end user broadband network device to an end user device such as a computer, TV, or telephone. In other words, current QoS methodologies enable broadband transmission infrastructures with required quality levels, but do not provide selective control of the “content” that is transmitted over these same infrastructures.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally describes a method of and a system for broadband/infrastructure providers to set, control, and operate a coercive/disruptive controller (CDC) to manage and provide broadband content to an end user device.

Embodiments of the present invention are directed to a controller that controls broadband content and communication from an end user broadband network access device to an end user device. Examples of an end user broadband network access device include, but are not limited to, a DSL modem, a cable modem, a DSL termination, a cable termination, a wireless router, or a wired router. In general, the end user broadband network device is an access point to the broadband infrastructure. Examples of an end user device include, but are not limited to, a computer, a network appliance, a television, a telephone, a personal digital assistant (PDA), or any device capable of receiving broadband content. Communication between the access point and the end user device preferably includes a broadband connection, either wired or wireless. Wireless transmissions can be made over public standard based WEE 802.11 a/b/g, Wi-Max, or any other wireless based transmission media. Wired transmissions can be made over local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), or any other wired transmission media.

In one embodiment, the controller is integrated within the access point and utilizes content parameters and operation logic to manage and control broadband content transmitted to the end user devices. In another embodiment, the controller is a stand alone device coupled to the access point within a home or enterprise network. The controller either operates independently or is dynamically set and controlled by a remotely coupled external controller or server. Using the controller, broadband content and communication for end user devices is seamlessly, dynamically, concurrently, and coercively/disruptively controlled.

The access point and the controller of the present invention preferably enable broadband/infrastructure providers to dynamically manage and administer the broadband content provided to the end user devices. For example, through the use of a local controller and/or an externally coupled coercive/disruptive controller, QoS content parameters are set/reset, assigned/reassigned for broadband content provided by any given content provider. QoS parameters define, for example, jitter, priority, level of filtering, etc. Broadband content is managed and administered according to the QoS content parameters, where the QoS content parameters are content specific, that is based on content origination, specific content, and/or specific content characteristics. As such, the QoS content parameters are adjusted based on the broadband content, making the QoS related to the broadband content independent of the content quality provided by the content provider. In this manner, the access point provides a content-specific QoS, where the QoS is applied to the actual content, not to the physical media that delivers the content.

Additionally, the access point monitors and collects usage statistics associated with all content accessed by the end user devices through the access point. One or more external control servers collect the usage statistics from each access point, thereby compiling macro-level statistics related to content accessed by end user devices. The one or more external control servers can be co-located with the network equipment of the broadband infrastructure provider, or the one or more external control servers can be independent of the broadband infrastructure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates an exemplary block diagram of one or more end user devices coupled to an access point of the present invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates an exemplary block diagram of a system implemented according to the present invention.

FIG. 3 illustrates an exemplary methodology for dynamically configuring broadband content transmitted to end user devices.

The present invention is described relative to the several views of the drawings. Where appropriate and only where identical elements are disclosed and shown in more than one drawing, the same reference numeral will be used to represent such identical elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 illustrates an exemplary block diagram of one or more end user devices 100-104 coupled to an access point 120 of the present invention. A broadband content controller 122 is preferably integrated within the access point 120. Alternatively, the broadband content controller is implemented as a stand alone end user network element, wireless or wired, which is configured within a home or enterprise network associated with the end user devices. In this alternative embodiment, the broadband content controller is coupled to a conventional end user broadband network access device to manage the content provided to the end user devices, as will be explained in greater detail below.

The access point 120 also includes a transceiver 128 adapted to transmit signals to and receive signals from network connections 106, 108, 110, and 132. Each of the network connections 106, 108, 110, and 132 can be either a wireless connection or a wired connection. As such, the transceiver 128 is configured for both wired and wireless network communications.

Each of the end user devices can be configured for wireless, wired, or both wireless and wired communications. Exemplary end user devices include, but are not limited to, computers, televisions, music players/recorders, PDAs, telephones, or any conventional end user device capable of receiving broadband content. The end user device can also be a mobile communication device configured to automatically switch an existing communication from a cellular network to a wireless IP network, or to switch an existing communication from an IP network to a cellular network. Such a mobile communication device is described in co-pending and co-owned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/031,498, filed Jan. 6, 2005, and entitled “TELEPHONE WITH AUTOMATIC SWITCHING BETWEEN CELLULAR AND VOIP NETWORKS”, which is hereby incorporated by reference.

As shown in FIG. 1, the end user device 100 is a wireless device coupled to the access point 120 via the wireless connection 106. Similarly, the end user device 102 is a wireless device coupled to the access point 120 via the wireless connection 108. The end user device 104 is a wired device coupled to the access point 120 via the wired connection 110. It is understood that the specific types of end user devices 100, 102, and 104, and the specific transmission connections 106-110 made between the end user devices 100-104 and the access point 120 described above in relation to FIG. 1 are for exemplary purposes only.

When the connection between an end user device, such as the end user device 104, and the access point 120, is a wired connection, such as the wired connection 110, the end user device 104 preferably functions as a network access terminal extension, for example a telephone cradle.

The access point 120 is coupled to a broadband termination block 130 via the broadband connection 132. The broadband connection 132 can be a wired connection or a wireless connection. A wired connection to access point 120 can be configured according to any conventional wired transmission protocol including, but not limited to, those used in LANs and WANs. A wireless connection to the access point 120 can be configured according to any conventional wireless transmission protocol including, but not limited to, IEEE 802.11 a/b/g and Wi-Max.

The broadband termination block 130 is either a physical device or a logical node where broadband content is received from an external source, such as a broadband infrastructure provider, and then supplied to the access point 120. The broadband content includes content data, such as audio content data and/or video content data, as well as content header data that provides information related to the accompanying audio/video content data. Examples of content header data include content origination address, content specific information, video parameters, audio parameters, and transmission media-specific parameters. The broadband content is provided from the broadband termination 130 to the access point 120. As the broadband termination block 130 can be considered a logical node, in an alternative embodiment, the broadband termination block 130 is included within the access point 120.

The broadband content controller 122 sets quality of service (QoS) transmission characteristics associated with transmission of the received broadband content to the end user devices 100-104. The QoS transmission characteristics can differ or be the same depending on whether the connection between the access point 120 and the end user devices 100-104 are wired or wireless. The transmission characteristics are also determined by the broadband content origination and by the nature of the audio/video content data. A content parameters module 124 maintains various content parameter values associated with the QoS transmission characteristics. These content parameter values are sent by the broadband content controller 122 to the content parameter module 124, or stored content parameter values are sent by the content parameter module 124 to the broadband content controller 122. Preferably, the content parameter values maintained by the content parameter module 124 are dynamically set by the broadband content controller 122. The content parameter values are used by the controller 122 to manage the content provided to the end user device 100-104. Content received by the access point 120 from the broadband termination block 130 is monitored for its source. That is, each content is associated with a specific content provider. A QoS is associated with each content provider so that content parameter values associated with each content provider are set according to the QoS of that content provider.

In operation, the broadband content controller 122 controls the transmission of broadband content and communications to the end user devices 100-104. The controller 122 is preferably integrated within the access point 120. Alternatively, the controller 122 is included within a stand-alone network device coupled to an end user broadband network element, where the stand alone network device and the end user broadband network element are included within a home or enterprise network. The controller 122 monitors broadband content received from the broadband termination block 130 to determine a content source of the broadband content. Using the determined content source, the controller 122 retrieves content parameter values from the content parameters module 124, where the retrieved content parameter values are associated with the determined content source. The retrieved content parameter values dictate the QoS transmission characteristics to be executed by the controller, as applied to the received broadband content. The QoS transmission characteristics can include, but are not limited to, a processing rate, a priority level, or a degree of filtering. Where the access point 120 receives more than one data stream of broadband content, the priority level indicates which data stream is processed first, which is processed second, and so on. The access point 120 can also include various processors with different processing speeds, where the content parameter values can dictate which processor is to be used. The access point 120 can also include one or more filter types, where the content parameter values can dictate whether or not the broadband content is filtered for noise, what quality filter is used, or whether or not the broadband content is blocked entirely.

Using the content parameter values to implement the QoS transmission characteristics for a given content provider, the controller processes the received broadband content before the content is sent to one or more of the end user devices 100-104. In this manner, the actual content is managed prior to delivery to the end user device.

Preferably, each access point 120 is also configured to collect usage statistics associated with all content that is accessed by the end user devices 100-104. The usage statistics represent information related to the content transmitted to the end user devices 100-104, and as such, the usage statistics represent the content usage patterns of the users of the end user devices 100-104. The usage statistics are stored in a database 126.

FIG. 2 illustrates an exemplary block diagram of a system including multiple access points 120 and an external control server 242. Preferably, the control server 242 is co-located at a central office of a broadband infrastructure provider 240. Alternatively, the control server 242 is implemented as a stand alone end user network element coupled to each of the access points 120. Although the system is shown in FIG. 2 as each access point 120 coupled directly to the control server 242, alternative embodiments are contemplated in which an access point is indirectly coupled to the control server via one or more intermediate access points. The network connections 232 are configured using any conventional communications media, either wireless or wired. The network connections 232 can be either the same network connections, such as the network connection 232, used to transmit broadband content from the broadband infrastructure provider 240 to the access points 120, or the network connections 232 can be independent of the network connections used to transmit broadband content from the broadband infrastructure provider 240 to the access points 120.

In the preferred embodiment, the control server 242 provides control commands and instructions to the controller 122 (FIG. 1) within each access point 120. In part, these control commands and instructions set, reset, assign, and reassign the QoS transmission characteristics associated with transmission of the broadband content from the access point 120 to the end user devices 100-104 (FIG. 1). The control server 242 maintains control of the content parameter values, which dictate the QoS transmission characteristics, stored in the content parameters module 124 (FIG. 1) of each access point 120. The access point 120 then processes the broadband content according to the stored content parameter values, as described above in relation to FIG. 1. The access point 120 administers the control commands and instructions sent from the control server 242 by dynamically managing and processing the broadband content before it is transmitted to the end user devices 100-104 (FIG. 1).

The control server 242 also functions as a centralized collection system that collects the usage statistics from each of the access points 120 in the system. The control server 242 maintains a database of the collected usage statistics that provides compiled usage information for all content distributed through the access points 120. Although the control server 242 is shown in FIG. 2 as a single server, the control server 242 can include more than one server networked together. In this case, the compiled usage statistics can be maintained in one of the servers, or the compiled usage statistics can be copied such that two or more of the networked servers maintain a copy of the compiled usage statistics.

In operation, the control server 242 preferably manages QoS transmission characteristics of the broadband content provided by the access points 120 to any end user device coupled to receive the broadband content. The access points 120 preferably process and then transmit the broadband content according to the QoS transmission characteristics provided by the control server 242. The control server 242 also collects the usage statistics stored by each of the access points 120. These usage statistics are compiled to form macro-level content usage patterns.

FIG. 3 illustrates an exemplary methodology for dynamically configuring broadband content transmitted to end user devices by an access point. At the step 400, broadband content is provided to a broadband provider. At the step 410, broadband content parameters are set and maintained within the access point. In one embodiment, management and administration of the broadband content parameters is controlled by an external control server. In another embodiment, a broadband content controller within the access point independently sets and defines the broadband content parameter values. At the step 420, the broadband content is transmitted by the broadband provider to the access point. The access point is preferably an end user broadband network element, which can also function as a broadband termination point.

At the step 430, the broadband content is dynamically configured within the access point, where the broadband content is configured according to the broadband content parameters. The broadband content parameters define content-specific QoS transmission characteristics which are to be applied on a content by content basis. At the step 440, the configured broadband content is transmitted from the access point to one or more end user devices. The configured broadband content is transmitted to the end user devices over a wired or wireless connection.

At the step 450, each access point collects usage statistics associated with the content transmitted through the access point to the end user devices. At the step 460, an external control server collects and collates the usage statistics from each of the access points.

The present invention has been described in terms of specific embodiments incorporating details to facilitate the understanding of the principles of construction and operation of the invention. As such, references herein to specific embodiments and details thereof are not intended to limit the scope of the claims appended hereto. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that modifications can be made to the embodiments chosen for illustration without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.