Title:
VOICE OVER IP CUSTOMER PREMISES EQUIPMENT
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system and method for increasing the cost effectiveness of a service provider in meeting the needs of the multiple dwelling unit (MDU) market. To reduce the cost of connectivity between a network unit and a customer premises in the MDU, customer premises equipment functionality is embedded in a voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) phone.



Inventors:
Diab, Wael William (San Francisco, CA, US)
Abaye, Alireza (Irvine, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/860809
Publication Date:
11/20/2008
Filing Date:
09/25/2007
Assignee:
Broadcom Corporation (Irvine, CA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
H04L12/66
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
JAGANNATHAN, MELANIE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Law Office of Duane S. Kobayashi (Reston, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A communication network at a customer premises, comprising: a network unit that receives a signal from a line terminal, said network unit having an Ethernet port; and a customer premises equipment having an Ethernet physical layer device that is coupled to said Ethernet port of said network unit using an Ethernet cable, said customer premises equipment including a handset for voice over Internet protocol communication that is delivered over said link, and a local area network port for connection of a customer device to said customer premises equipment.

2. The communication network of claim 1, wherein said customer premises equipment is a voice over Internet protocol phone.

3. The communication network of claim 1, wherein said customer device is a wireless access point.

4. The communication network of claim 1, wherein said customer device is a television.

5. The communication network of claim 1, wherein said customer device is a computer.

6. The communication network of claim 1, wherein said customer device is a high definition receiver.

7. The communication network of claim 1, wherein said local area network port is an Ethernet port.

8. The communication network of claim 1, wherein said Ethernet physical layer device supports a link greater than 100 meters.

9. A customer premises equipment, comprising: a broad reach Ethernet physical layer device designed to receive communication over a link greater than 100 meters; a handset for voice over Internet protocol communication that is delivered over said link; and a port for connection of a customer device to the customer premises equipment, wherein customer device communication is delivered over said link.

10. The customer premises equipment of claim 9, wherein said customer device is a wireless access point.

11. The customer premises equipment of claim 9, wherein said customer device is a television.

12. The customer premises equipment of claim 9, wherein said customer device is a computer.

13. The customer premises equipment of claim 9, wherein said customer device is a high definition receiver.

14. The customer premises equipment of claim 9, wherein said port is an Ethernet port.

15. A communication method using a customer premises equipment, comprising: receiving, in a customer premises equipment from an optical network unit, a first communication via an Ethernet link that is greater than 100 meters, said first communication including voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) traffic; displaying audio based on said VOIP traffic on a handset of said customer premises equipment; and transmitting, to a customer device by said customer premises equipment, a second communication through a local area network port on said customer premises equipment, said second communication including data received in said first communication.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein said transmitting comprises transmitting to a wireless access point.

17. The method of claim 15, wherein said transmitting comprises transmitting to a television.

18. The method of claim 15, wherein said transmitting comprises transmitting to a computer.

19. The method of claim 15, wherein said transmitting comprises transmitting to a high definition receiver.

20. The method of claim 15, wherein said transmitting comprises transmitting through an Ethernet port.

Description:

This application claims priority to provisional application No. 60/917,769, filed May 14, 2007, which is incorporated by reference herein, in its entirety, for all purposes.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to customer premises equipment and, more particularly, to voice over IP (VOIP) customer premises equipment.

2. Introduction

Incumbent local exchange carriers (ILEC) and competitive local exchange carriers (CLECS) are seeking to capitalize on the growing market for broadband Internet connections to the home. One example of an ILEC Internet service is digital subscriber line (DSL) service, which provides a broadband connection over a conventional copper twisted pair. Recent ILEC offerings have enhanced the bandwidth of connections to the home using fiber optic technology. Hybrid solutions also exist where fiber optic solutions are combined with copper twisted pairs from a curbside or other remote terminal. These ILEC offerings are seeking to compete with cable providers that provide broadband connections using their existing coaxial cable TV infrastructure.

Regardless of the method of connection to the customer, the connections terminate on customer premise equipment (CPE). Examples of CPEs include a DSL or cable modem. In general, the CPE is responsible for performing media conversion (e.g., fiber-optic to copper), switching, security, provisioning, etc.

One of the major markets of competition for ILEC and CLECS are multiple dwelling units (MDUs) such as apartment complexes, office buildings, high-rise complexes, etc. This MDU market has vast potential due to the density of the customer base. What is needed therefore is a mechanism that increases the cost effectiveness of a service provider in meeting the particular needs of the MDU market.

SUMMARY

A VOIP customer premises equipment, substantially as shown in and/or described in connection with at least one of the figures, as set forth more completely in the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In order to describe the manner in which the above-recited and other advantages and features of the invention can be obtained, a more particular description of the invention briefly described above will be rendered by reference to specific embodiments thereof which are illustrated in the appended drawings. Understanding that these drawings depict only typical embodiments of the invention and are not therefore to be considered limiting of its scope, the invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates an example of a system that services a MDU complex.

FIG. 2 illustrates an embodiment of a system that services a MDU complex.

FIG. 3 illustrates an embodiment of a VOIP CPE.

FIG. 4 illustrates CPE functionality in a VOIP device.

FIG. 5 illustrates a flowchart of a process of operating a VOIP CPE.

FIG. 6 illustrates an example of packet routing in a VOIP CPE.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Various embodiments of the invention are discussed in detail below. While specific implementations are discussed, it should be understood that this is done for illustration purposes only. A person skilled in the relevant art will recognize that other components and configurations may be used without parting from the spirit and scope of the invention.

Unlike suburban residential markets, the MDU market can benefit greatly from economies of scale. FIG. 1 illustrates an example system architecture for provisioning service to multiple customer premises in an MDU. In this illustrated example, the MDU service is supported by central office 110 (or other hub location). Although not shown, central office 110 is itself connected with other central offices and hubs through a broader communications network. In one embodiment, central office 110 is connected to MDU 120 via a high bandwidth connection between line terminal (LT) 112 in central office 110 and network unit (NU) 121 in MDU 120. In one scenario, NU 121 is located in a basement of MDU 120. In various implementations, link 114 can be embodied as a copper link, fiber optic link, etc. Moreover, in one embodiment, LT 112 is positioned as a remote terminal in a location that is remote from central office 110.

NU 121 in MDU 120 can be configured to perform a media conversion. For example, NU 121 can perform a media conversion from fiber optic cabling to copper cabling. In the illustrated example, NU 121 can support multiple CPEs in MDU 120 via a plurality of links 122. In a typical high-rise building, the plurality of links can extend from the basement to customer premises 131-134 on various floors in MDU 120.

In one configuration, the connection between NU 121 and individual CPEs is via a copper connection. In various embodiments, this copper connection can be based on standard Ethernet, DSL, or the like. In various implementations, the copper DSL connection can be Ethernet (e.g., 2BASE-TL and 10PASS-TS) or non-Ethernet based.

As illustrated, NU 121 also incorporates switching functionality that aggregates a plurality of links into a single uplink. NU 121 can also effect various network policies. For example, NU 121 can enforce various bandwidth limitations in accordance with service provisioning under a particular service level agreement (SLA).

In general, a CPE can be configured to perform media conversion, switching, security, provisioning, etc. As such, a CPE such as a DSL modem can be used to support multiple devices within a single customer premises. For example, a DSL modem can support such devices as a VOIP phone, a computer, a wireless access point, a television, etc. As illustrated in FIG. 1, NU 121 can have a DSL connection to CPE 142 in customer premises 134. CPE 142 in turn supports various customer devices. As illustrated, CPE 142 supports VOIP phone 146 via Ethernet connection 144.

One of the disadvantages of the provisioning example of FIG. 1 is the expense of supporting the various links from NU 121 to each customer premises 131-134. In a typical MDU, these links can extend well over 100 meters, thus creating a need for CPE components such as DSL modems. CPEs represent the most significant component of the expense in supporting the links from NU 121 to customer premises 131-134.

In the present invention, reduction of these costs is enabled by a system architecture such as that illustrated in FIG. 2. In the illustrated example, a high-bandwidth connection such as fiber-optic link 214 is supported by LT 212 in central office 210 and NU 221 in MDU 220. Unlike the previous system architecture, links from NU 221 to customer premises 231-234 are not supported by conventional CPEs. Rather, the conventional CPE such as a DSL modem is eliminated from the system architecture. Instead, the links from NU 221 to customer premises 231-234 is supported by a VOIP CPE, such as VOIP phone 242 in customer premises 234.

It is a feature of the present invention that a VOIP phone can be configured to function as a VOIP CPE. As illustrated in FIG. 2, VOIP CPE 242 can be used to support multiple customer devices (CDs) 246 in customer premises 234. Examples of such CDs are personal computers, wireless access points, televisions, HD receivers, etc. These CDs can be coupled to VOIP CPE 242 via a separate link (e.g., Ethernet).

In the system architecture of FIG. 2, each VOIP CPE can be coupled to NU 221 via a wall socket that supports an Ethernet-type connection. In one embodiment, this connection is a broad reach Ethernet connection that can handle link spans as long as 500 meters and beyond. Conventional Ethernet connections only support link spans up to 100 meters. Accordingly, conventional Ethernet connections cannot be used to support the lengthy link spans from NU 221 to customer premises 231-234. For example, a conventional Ethernet connection would not facilitate a connection from a basement in an MDU to a customer premises on the 20th floor.

In one embodiment, the broad reach connection enables frames to be carried natively in Ethernet. This is advantageous because NU 221 can be based on a conventional enterprise switch box not a DSL box, and a frame format conversion such as that performed by a DSL modem at the CPE would not be required. Moreover, the switch chips inside NU 221 are standard devices that can enjoy high volume efficiencies. In general, broad reach Ethernet extends the physical transmission capabilities of Ethernet but preserves the PCS, RS, MAC and above as native Ethernet. Broad reach Ethernet is also backwards compatible with standard Ethernet.

In general, the VOIP CPE can be built with functionality similar to personal computers. For example, a VOIP CPE can have a central processing unit (CPU), a switch, router, and software/firmware that can define its configuration and functionality. In one embodiment, the VOIP CPE is embedded with CPE functionality such as encryption, authentication, provisioning, packet inspection, router, network address translation, USB support, prioritization, audio/video bridging, etc. This embedded functionality would enable the VOIP CPE to operate in a capacity similar to a conventional CPE.

FIG. 3 illustrates one embodiment of a VOIP CPE. As would be appreciated, various bus/bridge architectures (e.g., north/south bridge architectures) can be used to connect the various components in the system.

As illustrated in the example of FIG. 3, VOIP CPE can include conventional components such as CPU 311, system memory 312, and power 313. As the VOIP CPE can be embodied as a VOIP phone, support for VOIP traffic is also included. Here, the VOIP CPE would include display 314, codec 315, and keypad 316. Display 314 can be embodied as an LCD screen for dialing and other call control/notification functions. Codec 315 supports the conversion of an audio signal from/to a digital bitstream in the downstream/upstream directions. As such, codec 315 can be coupled to an amplifier that supports a speaker and microphone for VOIP communication. Finally, keypad 316 enables the user input of dialing instructions. In combination, display 314, codec 315, and keypad 316 would support the VOIP function of the VOIP CPE.

As noted, a VOIP CPE can support multiple CDs such as wireless access points, televisions, computers, HD receivers, etc. In FIG. 3, this support is enabled by switch 319, router 318, and network address translation (NAT) 317 functionality. In combination, switch 319, router 318, and NAT 317 enable the VOIP device to operate as a CPE for one or more CDs. FIG. 4 illustrates an example of such CPE functionality. As illustrated, VOIP CPE 400 includes WAN port 412 for connection to an NU/SW, one or more LAN ports 414 for connection to one or more CDs, and internal port 418. In one embodiment, WAN port 412 and LAN ports 414 are Ethernet ports. In general, WAN port 412, LAN port(s) 414 and internal port 418 support full duplex links such that traffic can be coming from either direction at the same time. Traffic can also be switched to two ports simultaneously. For example, internal port 418 can add traffic to WAN port 412 (e.g., VOIP traffic) and LAN port(s) 414, or receive traffic from either or both of WAN port 412 and LAN port(s) 414. WAN port 412, LAN port(s) 414, and internal port 418 are coupled together via switch 416. In routing traffic from WAN port 412 to LAN port(s) 414, VOIP CPE 400 would support a CPE switching functionality for the customer premises.

VOIP CPE can be designed to support some form of authentication, privacy and security. Authentication would indicate to the network that the VOIP CPE is a valid network device that can receive communication. By validating exactly what services (e.g., IPTV, VOIP, data, etc.) are allowed to the VOIP CPE, the system can ensure that services are not stolen. Privacy/security can be enabled by encryption (e.g., MACSec), which would ensure that transmitted data (e.g., voice data) cannot be monitored by third parties. In general, authentication, privacy and security can be used to prevent unauthorized devices from accessing the link at other points.

To illustrate the functionality of the VOIP CPE, reference is now made to the flowchart of FIG. 5. As illustrated, the process begins at step 502 where communication is received on an ingress port of a VOIP CPE. In the current example, this step can be represented by the receipt of an Ethernet communication from the NU/SW at a WAN port of the VOIP CPE. The communication on the link between the NU/SW and the VOIP CPE is not restricted to traffic (e.g., VOIP traffic) between the NU/SW and the VOIP CPE. Rather, the communication on the link between the NU/SW and the VOIP CPE can carry traffic between multiple pairs of devices. Specifically, the communication can include traffic destined for one or more of a personal computer, wireless access point, television, HD receivers, etc. The support of traffic for multiple devices on a single link is the consequence of having a network that supports independently addressable network devices.

At the VOIP CPE, the switch is used to route traffic to its intended destination. At step 504, the switch in the VOIP CPE would examine the source and destination of the packet. Next, at step 506, the switch would determine a destination of the packet. Finally, at step 508, the switch would send the packet to the appropriate egress port. In the current example, the switch can determine that a packet (e.g., containing VOIP traffic) is destined for the VOIP device. In that case, the switch would route the packet to the appropriate egress port, which is the internal port of the VOIP CPE. This routing is illustrated by path 610 in FIG. 6. If, on the other hand, the switch determines that the packet (e.g., containing video data) is destined for an HD receiver on a LAN port, then the switch would route the packet to the egress port supported by the LAN port of the VOIP CPE. This LAN port enables transmission of the non-terminating traffic to the HD receiver. This routing is illustrated by path 620 in FIG. 6. As would be appreciated, multicast traffic can also be supported by the switch, such that traffic is destined to be put on all ports.

As this process illustrates, the inclusion of a VOIP phone can be used as a CPE device to support one or more CDs via conventional LAN Ethernet ports. As such, the VOIP phone can be coupled to an Ethernet wall jack in a manner similar to a conventional phone, and yet operate as a CPE. This is in contrast to conventional VOIP phones that are coupled to a separate CPE device. In accordance with the present invention, a dedicated CPE device can therefore be eliminated.

In one embodiment, the WAN connection is a DSL connection. This DSL connection can be Ethernet or non-Ethernet based. In another embodiment, the WAN connection is a broad reach Ethernet connection that enables link lengths beyond 100 m. The inclusion of broad reach Ethernet support would remove the reliance on local loop technologies such as DSL, and can lead to simpler NU and CPE designs that leverage high volume Ethernet components. Specifically, the support of broad reach Ethernet communication by the VOIP CPE obviates the need for DSL support by both the NU and CPE. This greatly reduces the complexity and cost of the NU.

These and other aspects of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art by a review of the preceding detailed description. Although a number of salient features of the present invention have been described above, the invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced and carried out in various ways that would be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art after reading the disclosed invention, therefore the above description should not be considered to be exclusive of these other embodiments. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology employed herein are for the purposes of description and should not be regarded as limiting.