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Publication numberWO2000010343 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberPCT/US1999/016434
Publication date24 Feb 2000
Filing date20 Jul 1999
Priority date12 Aug 1998
Also published asCA2338086A1, EP1104631A1, US6608893, US7155003, US20040028209, US20070127682
Publication numberPCT/1999/16434, PCT/US/1999/016434, PCT/US/1999/16434, PCT/US/99/016434, PCT/US/99/16434, PCT/US1999/016434, PCT/US1999/16434, PCT/US1999016434, PCT/US199916434, PCT/US99/016434, PCT/US99/16434, PCT/US99016434, PCT/US9916434, WO 0010343 A1, WO 0010343A1, WO 2000/010343 A1, WO 2000010343 A1, WO 2000010343A1, WO-A1-0010343, WO-A1-2000010343, WO0010343 A1, WO0010343A1, WO2000/010343A1, WO2000010343 A1, WO2000010343A1
InventorsNorman Wayne Fleming, James S. Rainwater
ApplicantBellsouth Intellectual Property Corporation
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: Patentscope, Espacenet
Routing of internet calls
WO 2000010343 A1
Abstract
When a subscriber calls into its Internet Service Provider (ISP), a central office receiving the call is triggered to perform a Local Number Portability (LNP) query. This LNP query is sent to an Intelligent Traffic Routing and Control (INTRAC) unit resident on a Service Control Point (SCP) which determines whether the call is to an ISP. If the call is to an ISP, the INTRAC unit polls a Remote Authentication Dial-In-User Service (RADIUS) server to determine whether resources are available. The RADIUS server tracks the resources of the ISP and of other ISPs and informs the SCP of the available resources. The SCP then inserts the Local Routing Number (LRN) of the preferred resource into a reply that is sent to the central office. If resources are not available, the call is terminated before signaling occurs with any switch associated with the ISP. On the other hand, when resources are available, the subscriber can be directed to the preferred resource for the subscriber. The subscriber, for instance, can be directed to an access server within the ISP that has excess capacity or can be directed to an access server that provides the best service for the subscriber, whereby subscribers can be directed to X2 type service if they have an X2 modem or to K56Flex type service if they have a K56Flex modem. As another example, if one ISP is at maximum capacity, the subscriber can be directed to a second back-up ISP.
Claims  (OCR text may contain errors)
CLAIMSWhat is claimed is:
1. A system for use in routing calls within a telephone network, comprising:
a service control point for receiving a switch- generated query and for generating a
resource query, the switch generated query being generated at a switch in response to a
received call; and
a resource tracker for tracking available resources of a first service provider;
wherein the resource tracker is for receiving the resource query from the service
control point and is for providing routing directions for routing the received call, the
routing directions being delivered to the switch through the service control point.
2. The system as set forth in claim 1, wherein the switch- generated query is a
local number portability query and the service control point is for performing local
number portability call processing.
3. The system as set forth in claim 1 , wherein the first service provider is an
Internet service provider.
4. The system as set forth in claim 1, wherein the resource tracker monitors a
number of modems available at the first service provider.
5. The system as set forth in claim 1, wherein the service control point returns
the routing directions to the switch as a local routing number.
6. The system as set forth in claim 1, wherein the service control point
includes a called party's telephone number in the resource query.
7. The system as set forth in claim 1, wherein the service control point
includes a calling party's telephone number in the resource query.
8. The system as set forth in claim 1, wherein the routing directions generated
by the resource tracker terminate the call when the first service provider has no available
resources.
9. The system as set forth in claim 1, wherein the routing directions generated
by the resource tracker directs the received call to available resources of the first service
provider.
10. The system as set forth in claim 1, wherein the resource tracker additionally
monitors available resources of a second service provider and provides routing directions
for directing the received call to the second service provider when resources are not
available at the first service provider.
11. The system as set forth in claim 1 , wherein resource tracker generates the
routing directions based on a called party's telephone number associated with the received
call. Γ₧,.
36
12. The system as set forth in claim 1, wherein the resource tracker generates
the routing directions based on a calling party's telephone number associated with the
received call.
13. The system as set forth in claim 1 , wherein the resource tracker generates
the routing directions based on a preferred type of service for the received call.
14. The system as set forth in claim 1, wherein the resource tracker includes a
counter for tracking available resources of the first service provider.
15. The system as set forth in claim 1, wherein the resource tracker includes a
plurality of counters for tracking available resources of the first service provider.
16. The system as set forth in claim 15, wherein each of the counters in the
resource tracker is associated with a group of modems at the first service provider.
17. The server as set forth in claim 16, wherein the first service provider has a
plurality of modems groups with each group of modems being dedicated to different types
of service and the resource tracker having a plurality of counters with each counter
monitoring available resources of a respective group of modems.
18. The server as set forth in claim 1, wherein the resource tracker is connected
to a remote authentication dial-in user service server.
19. The system as set forth in claim 18, wherein the resource tracker monitors
start and stop messages received at the remote authentication dial-in user service server.
20. The system as set forth in claim 1, wherein resource tracker provides the
routing directions as a local routing number.
21. The system as set forth in claim 1 , wherein resource tracker resides on a
remote authentication dial-in user service server.
22. A method for routing calls within a telephone network, comprising the
steps of:
receiving a switch-generated query and generating a resource query; the switch
generated query being generated at a switch in response to a received call;
tracking available resources of a first service provider; and
providing routing directions for routing the received call.
23. The method as set forth in claim 22, further including a step of delivering
the routing directions to the switch.
24. The method as set forth in claim 22, wherein the step of receiving the
switch- generated query comprises a step of receiving a local number portability query.
25. The method as set forth in claim 22, wherein the step of receiving the
switch- generated query comprises a step of receiving the switch- generated query at a service control point.
26. The method as set forth in claim 22, wherein the step of tracking available
resources comprises a step of tracking available resources of an Internet service provider.
27. The method as set forth in claim 22, wherein the step of tracking available
resources comprises a step of tracking modems available for the first service provider.
28. The method as set forth in claim 22, wherein the step of tracking available
resources comprises a step of tracking available resources of a second service provider.
29. The method as set forth in claim 22, wherein the step of tracking available
resources comprises a step of tracking available modems within each group of modems of
the first service provider.
30. The method as set forth in claim 22, wherein the step of tracking comprises
a step of tracking resources available within each access server of the first service
provider.
31. The method as set forth in claim 22, wherein step of tracking comprises a
step of tracking available resources for each type of service offered by the first service
provider.
32. The method as set forth in claim 22, wherein the step of tracking comprises a step of maintaining a counter representing resources available at the first service
provider.
33. The method as set forth in claim 22, wherein the step of tracking comprises
a step of maintaining a plurality of counters representing resources available at the first
service provider.
34. The method as set forth in claim 22, wherein the step of tracking comprises
a step of decrementing a counter each time a resource of the first service provider is
consumed.
35. The method as set forth in claim 22, wherein the step of tracking comprises
a step of incrementing a counter each time a resource of the first service provider becomes
available.
36. The method as set forth in claim 22, wherein the step of providing routing
directions comprises a step of terminating the call when resources are not available.
37. The method as set forth in claim 22, wherein the step of providing routing
directions comprises a step of directing the call to resources available at the first service
provider.
38. The method as set forth in claim 22, further comprising a step of tracking
resources of a second service provider and wherein the step of providing routing directions comprises a step of directing the call to the second service provider when
resources are not available at the first service provider.
39. The method as set forth in claim 22, wherein the step of providing routing
directions directs the call to resources in relative close proximity to the switch.
40. The method as set forth in claim 22, wherein the step of providing routing
directions comprises a step of determining a preferred type of service for the call.
41. The method as set forth in claim 22, wherein the step of providing routing
directions comprises a step of directing the call to a preferred type of service for the call.
42. The method as set forth in claim 41 , wherein the step of directing the call to
the preferred type of service comprises a step of directing the call to a second service
provider.
43. The method as set forth in claim 22, further comprising a step of routing
the call at the switch based on the routing directions.
44. The method as set forth in claim 22, wherein the step of providing routing
directions comprises a step of providing routing directions as a local routing number.
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

ROUTING OF INTERNET CALLS

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to networks, systems and methods for

routing data traffic within a telephone network and. more particularly, to networks,

systems and methods for directing data traffic away from the Public Switched Telephone

Network and for routing data traffic based on available resources and information about

the state of these resources.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is the backbone for providing

telephony services to business and individuals in the United States. The PSTN includes a

number of switches, generally designated as Service Switching Points (SSPs), for

interconnecting a calling party's line to a called party's line. Prior to the 1960's, to

complete a call between a calling party and a called party, signaling would occur over the

trunk circuits between the switches to ensure that the called party was not busy and to

establish a connection between the two parties. This earlier version of the PSTN was

rather inflexible in that changes to the PSTN could only occur with the replacement of the

hardware in the PSTN. For instance, at this time, the SSPs were hard- wired and had to be

replaced with a new SSP in order to update the switch's capability. The switches,

however, could not be quickly updated since the standards and specifications had to be

well-defined for the various switch vendors. To address the delays in updating switches, these hard-wired SSPs were ultimately replaced with SSPs that had stored program

control (SPC). As a result, rather than replacing an entire SSP, the SSP could be modified

to enable a new feature simply by updating the software in the SSP. Even with SPC in

the SSPs, the PSTN was still limited in the services that it could provide.

A major advancement to the PSTN occurred in the mid- 1970 's with the

introduction of Signaling Transfer Points (STPs) and Signaling System number 7 (SS7)

protocol. With the addition of SS7 and STPs to the PSTN, call setup information is

routed over a signaling network formed between the STPs and no longer occurred directly

over the trunks. For instance, a calling party's SSP would send a data query from one of

its associated STPs to an STP associated with the called party. The called party's STP

would then determine whether the called party's line was idle and would perform the

necessary signaling over the SS7 data network to connect the call. Thus, whereas before

call setup signaling would occur over the voice trunks, the STPs and SS7 signaling bypass

this traffic away from the voice trunks and onto dedicated data lines. As a result, the

capacity of the PSTN to carry voice calls was greatly increased.

In the mid- 1980 's, demand for additional services from the PSTN resulted in the

Intelligent Network (IN). In general, IN provides service logic external to the SSPs and

places this logic in databases called Service Control Points (SCPs). To accommodate IN,

the SSPs have software to detect service-specific features associated with IN. The

software in the SSPs define hooks or "triggers" for the services that require use of an

SCP. In response to a trigger, an SSP queries an associated SCP for relevant routing

information. For instance, IN permits 800 service and calling card verification service,

both of which require a query from the SSPs to the SCP through an STP and the return of routing information to the SSP through an STP. A Service Management System (SMS)

was also introduced into the PSTN with IN and provides necessary support in service

creation, testing, and provisioning. The SMS communicates with the SCPs and provides

software updates to the SCPs.

The demand for increased capabilities has more recently transformed the IN into

an Advanced Intelligent Network (AIN). The AIN differs from the IN in that the AIN

provides service independent capabilities whereas the IN was limited to service-specific

capabilities. AIN provides a high level of customization and builds upon basic services of

play announcement, digit collection, call routing, and number translation. Some

examples of AIN services include abbreviated dialing beyond a central office, do not

disturb service for blocking calls from certain numbers or at certain times, and area

number calling service which allows a company to have one advertised telephone number

but to have calls routed to a nearest business location.

The ability to provide Local Number Portability (LNP) is perhaps the latest

enhancement to the PSTN. The local exchange carriers (LECs) are now required under

the Telecommunications Act to provide local number portability so that subscribers can

move or "port" their number from one service-provider to another service-provider.

Traditionally, the function of a telephone number within the PSTN was both to identify

the customer and to provide the PSTN with sufficient information to route a call to that

customer. To allow a customer to change its service-provider while at the same time

keeping the same telephone number, the telephone number can no longer by itself provide

the means to inform the network of the customer's location. A database, called a LNP

database, stores routing information for customers who have moved or ported to another

local-service provider. The LNP database contains the directory numbers of all ported subscribers and the location routing number of the switch that serves them. With LNP,

the SSPs will query an LNP database through a STP in order to correctly route calls to a

ported telephone number.

The evolution of the PSTN from providing POTS to AIN services has primarily

been driven by the need to support voice telephony. The PSTN, however, is not limited

to voice telephony but is increasingly being relied upon for data services. Modems are

the predominant means data is transmitted over the PSTN. The integration of voice

services with data services is not a new phenomenon and the PSTN has traditionally

accommodated these combined services through its Integrated Services Digital Network

(ISDN) lines. An ISDN line can carry both voice and data traffic or can be optimized for

data-only service at a speed of 128 kbps. Although the ISDN has been available for close

to 20 years, the use of the ISDN line is not pervasive and estimates place the number of

Internet subscribers employing ISDN service at only 1.4 percent.

Despite the infrequent use of ISDN service, the need for data services is quite

extensive. The PSTN has been designed to carry a large amount of voice traffic with each

voice call lasting, on average, just a few minutes. While an average voice call is

approximately 3.5 minutes, the average Internet call lasts over 26 minutes. Considering

that Internet traffic on the PSTN is soon expected to exceed the combined traffic of both

voice and facsimile, the capacity of the PSTN will soon be stretched to its limits. The

LECs have been meeting this higher demand for capacity by deploying additional

switches and other elements within the PSTN. Unfortunately for the LECs, the cost of

this additional PSTN equipment is being born almost entirely by the LECs since they will

see little increase in their customer base. This added expense to each LEC is

approximately $100 million per year and is thus a considerable expense to the LECs. An immediate need therefore exists to alleviate strains on the PSTN due to Internet

traffic. Some solutions to handle Internet congestion have been proposed in the Bellcore

White Paper entitled Architectural Solutions To Internet Congestion Based on SS7 and

Intelligent Network Capabilities, by Dr. Amir Atai and Dr. James Gordon. Many of these

solutions discussed in this paper, however, require the design, development, and

deployment of new network elements within the PSTN. For instance, several of the

solutions introduce an Internet Call Routing (ICR) node which can perform SS7 call setup

signaling and which is used to direct Internet calls to a data network. Other solutions rely

upon a Remote Data Terminal (RDT) to alleviate congestion while other architectures

propose the use of both ICRs and RDTs. The architectures described in the Bellcore

White Paper are generally long-term solutions which offer limited assistance to the LECs

in the near future. A need therefore still exists for systems and methods for addressing the

ever-increasing amount of data traffic in the PSTN.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention addresses the problems described above by providing

networks, systems, and methods for directing Internet calls and other data calls away from

the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). A call to an Internet Service Provider

(ISP) triggers a query to a Service Control Point (SCP). When the query is received a the

SCP, the SCP determines whether the called telephone number is a data call. If it is, the

SCP routes an inquiry to an Intelligent Traffic Routing and Control Unit (INTRAC)

which, according to one aspect of the invention, acquires routing directions and provides

them to the SSP. The routing directions are obtained through use of a resource table. D

In the preferred embodiment, the SSP is triggered to perform a Local Number

Portability (LNP) query to an SCP that performs LNP call processing. The SCP

determines whether the call is a data call and, if it is, directs the call away from an LNP

call processing unit to the INTRAC unit. Both the LNP call processing unit and the

INTRAC unit are Service Package Applications (SPAs) that are resident on the SCP. The

SCP has a database of data-related telephone numbers and uses a Routing Key to direct

the query to the INTRAC unit. For queries related only to LNP, the calls are processed in

the conventional manner and are not effected by the INTRAC unit.

Instead of, or in addition to, receiving routing directions, the INTRAC unit may

also determine whether resources are available for connecting a subscriber's call to its

destination. According to this aspect of the invention, the INTRAC unit includes a

resource table that may be updated by an external or internal resource tracker. After

receiving an LNP query, the INTRAC unit determines from the resource table whether the

called party has capacity to process the subscriber's call. If resources are available, the

INTRAC returns the routing directions for the preferred provider of the service within the

Local Routing Number (LRN) of the LNP response. If service is not available, then the

call to the ISP is either redirected to another LRN or is intercepted, in which case the

subscriber receives a busy signal or other error treatment. As a result, when resources are

not available, the signaling between the subscriber and the ISP provider is eliminated,

thereby reducing traffic within the PSTN. On the other hand, when resources are

available, the subscriber can be directed to those resources in an efficient manner.

The resource tracker monitors the resources consumed by an ISP or group of ISPs

and may be either internal or external to the INTRAC unit. As an example, the resource

tracker defines a counter for each access server within an ISP and sets the maximum value of the counter to the available resources of that access server, such as the number of

modems . The resource tracker monitors the start and stop messages routed to a Remote

Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) server and accordingly adjusts the value

of the counter to reflect the available resources. The resource tracker adjusts values in the

resource table to reflect the current capacities of the ISPs. The INTRAC unit can

therefore query the resource table in real-time to discover the available resources and, if

resources are not available, the call can be quickly re-routed or terminated.

In addition to allowing data calls to be intercepted when resources are not

available, data calls can also be more efficiently managed. A subscriber's call, for

instance, can be directed to a preferred Point Of Presence (POP) of an ISP or to a

preferred access server within an ISP. The routing of the customer's call can be made

based on geographic locations or based on a preferred service for the subscriber, such as

modem (X2 or K56Flex) or ISDN service. The subscriber's call can also be directed to

the most appropriate ISP. For instance, when the subscriber's ISP is at full capacity, the

call may be directed to a secondary ISP that offers backup service to a preferred ISP.

One manner of controlling the destination of data calls is through the use of Local

Routing Numbers (LRNs). When an LNP query is sent from an SSP to the LNP SCP, the

INTRAC unit associated with the LNP SCP provides the LRN returned in the response to

the SSP. This LRN may be obtained by the INTRAC unit from the resource table or by

an external resource tracker. The external resource tracker or the INTRAC unit derives a

preferred LRN based on the called party, and possibly also based on the calling party. For

instance, the information in the resource table can be used to direct a subscriber's call to a

preferred access server within an ISP or even to an access server in a backup ISP. Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide networks, systems,

and methods for reducing traffic in the PSTN.

It is another object of the present invention to provide networks, systems, and

methods for efficiently routing data calls.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide networks systems, and

methods for routing calls to a preferred resource within the ISP.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide networks, systems, and

methods for redirecting calls to a secondary resource when a first ISP is at peak capacity.

Other objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become

apparent with respect to the remainder of this document.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and form a part of the

specification, illustrate preferred embodiments of the present invention and, together with

the description, disclose the principles of the invention. In the drawings:

Fig. 1 is a diagram of a conventional network for providing data service to a

subscriber;

Fig. 2 is a more detailed diagram of an Internet Service Provider and RADIUS

server for the network shown in Fig. 1 ;

Fig. 3 is a diagram of a network according to a preferred embodiment of the

invention;

Fig. 4 is a flow chart depicting a process of handling a subscriber's data call;

Fig. 5 is a flow chart depicting a process of generating an ISP resource inquiry; Fig. 6 is a flow chart depicting a method of monitoring consumption of resources;

Fig. 7 is a diagram of a Common Channel Signaling System 7 (CCS7) message

format;

Fig. 8 is a more detailed diagram of an Service Control Point according to a

preferred embodiment of the invention;

Fig. 9 is a flow chart of a method of processing queries at the SCP of Fig. 8; and

Fig. 10 is an example of a resource table according to a preferred embodiment of

the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Reference will now be made in detail to preferred embodiments of the invention,

non-limiting examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings.

I. Conventional Network

With reference to Fig. 1, the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) 10

provides local and long distance telephony service to its subscribers, such as those

represented by telephones 12, facsimile machines 13, and computers 14. As discussed

above, the PSTN 10 includes Service Switching Points (SSPs), Signaling Transfer Points

(STPs), Service Control Points (SCPs), and Service Circuit Nodes (SCNs), which are

collectively represented by the PSTN 10. The PSTN 10 also provides a connection to the

Internet 30, such as through an Internet Service Provider (ISP) 20. A subscriber using a

computer 14 must direct a call through the PSTN 10 in order to gain access to his or her

ISP 20, which in turn provides access to the data network called the Internet 30. This arrangement of going through the PSTN 10 presents a number of problems and

challenges, some of which have already been described.

The PSTN 10, as shown in more detail in Fig. 2, includes a number of central

offices (COs) 16 and tandem switches (T) 18. Typically, a plurality of subscribers are

connected to a single central office 16 and the central offices 16 are inter-connected to

each other through one or more tandem switches, such as the tandem switch 18. The ISP

20 has an Access Server (AS) 22 connected to the PSTN 10 through a number lines,

which are often primary rate ISDN (PRI) lines 24. The PRI lines 24 extend between the

ISP 20 and a single central office 16 within the PSTN 10 and the ISP 20 is connected to

the Internet 30.

The access server 22 in the ISP 20 includes a modem pool for linking its customers

to the Internet 30. The ISP 20 has a need for a significant amount of administrative

support in order to track and manage each subscriber's access to the Internet 30. A

Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) server 40 provides this

administrative support to the ISP 20. The RADIUS server 40, in general, provides

authentication, authorization, and accounting services for the ISP 20. A RADIUS server

may also provide routing and tunneling support in some implementations, which will

become more apparent from the description below. When the ISP 20 begins a session for

a subscriber, the ISP 20 sends an authentication request message to the RADIUS server

40 describing the subscriber for which the service is being provided. This message

typically also includes the subscriber's name and the subscriber's password. Upon receipt

of the authentication request message, the RADIUS server 40 sends an acknowledgment

that the message has been received with authentication results. The RADIUS server 40 verifies the subscriber's name passed from the access server 22 and the password and also

returns configuration information to the access server 22 for that particular subscriber. If

authentication is successful, a start accounting message is sent to the RADIUS server 40.

At the end of a session with a subscriber, the access server 22 sends a stop message

indicating the type of service that was delivered and possibly other information, such as

elapsed time. The services that may be provided to the subscriber include SLIP, PPP,

Telnet, or rlogin. Additional information on the RADIUS server 40 may be found in

Rigney et al., Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS), Network Working

Group, January, 1997, or in Rigney et al., RADIUS Accounting, Network Working Group,

April, 1997.

One challenge facing the ISP 20 is striking a balance between efficient utilization

of its resources and providing capacity to meet subscriber demand. The resources of the

ISP 20 is predominantly its pool of modems and the ISP 20 tries to minimize this cost by

ensuring that all of its modems operate at peak capacity. To provide a quality service to

its subscribers, on the other hand, the ISP 20 should ideally be able to provide access to

the Internet 30 for each subscriber whenever he or she wants and should strive to provide

each customer with maximum bandwidth. The ISP 20 typically strikes this balance by

attempting to closely shape its capacity to customer demand and by reducing transfer

speeds when demand for services increases. Due to the difficulty in estimating customer

demand and due to fluctuations in the demand and in the subscriber base, the ISP 20 is

often operating at peak capacity and is unable to accommodate any more calls from its

subscribers.

This difficulty in reaching the ISP 20 can be problematic for both the ISP 20 as well as for the Local Exchange Carrier (LEC). For the ISP 20, the subscriber is likely

frustrated that he or she cannot reach the ISP 20 and may decide to discontinue service

with the ISP 20 and sign up with another ISP that can offer better quality service. Even

when the subscriber is able to connect with its ISP 20, the subscriber is often frustrated by

the limited amount of available bandwidth and to the resultant slow transfer speeds. For

the LEC, a subscriber who cannot initially make contact with its ISP 20 often repeatedly

attempts to make contact with the ISP 20 and may continue to do so until communications

are established. Each time that the subscriber attempts to contact his or her ISP 20, the

subscriber consumes valuable resources of the PSTN 10 since each call requires a

considerable amount of processing and signaling within the PSTN 10, including signaling

between an SSP and STP associated with the subscriber and between an SSP and STP

associated with the ISP 20. Additional resources of the PSTN 10 may also be consumed

if queries are sent to an SCP, such as when the subscriber dials a 1-800 number to reach

the ISP 20. A need therefore exists for a way of more efficiently controlling and

managing the resources of an ISP and of the PSTN.

II. Network Overview

A network 100 for more efficiently controlling and managing resources of an ISP

and of the PSTN is shown in Fig. 3. The network 100 includes subscribers having

computers 14 who are provided Internet access through one or more ISPs. Each computer

14 is connected to one of the central offices 16 within the PSTN. As shown in Fig. 2, a

number of subscribers with computers 14 are connected to one of the central offices 16

within the PSTN 10. The central offices 16 and the tandem switch 18 are connected to one or more access servers 22, preferably through Primary Rate ISDN lines (PRI). The

central offices 16 are also connected to an SCP 42 which provides Local Number

Portability (LNP) services to the PSTN 10. The network 100 additionally includes an

Intelligent Traffic Routing and Control (INTRAC) unit 45 connected to the SCP 42 and a

resource tracker 50 connected to the RADIUS server 40. Although the INTRAC unit 45

is illustrated as a separate item from the SCP 42, as described in more detail below, the

INTRAC unit 45 preferably resides on the SCP 42 as a Service Package Application

(SPA).

As described above, one application of a RADIUS server provides authentication,

authorization, and accounting services to the ISP 20. This first application of a RADIUS

server is typically associated with a single ISP 20 and is a Level 2 Tunneling Protocol

(L2TP) Network Server, commonly referred to as an LNS. A second application of a

RADIUS server, such as RADIUS server 40' shown in Fig. 3, generally provides routing

and tunneling support for an LEC. This application of RADIUS server 40' is an L2TP

Access Concentrator, commonly referred to as a LAC. After receiving a call from a

subscriber, an Access Server 22 queries the RADIUS server 40' for level 2 tunneling

information. In response to one of these queries, the RADIUS server 40' determines how

to route the call through the LECs Wide Area Network (WAN) 26 so that the call reaches

the proper destination with the Internet 30. The WAN 26 may comprise any suitable type

of network, such as a frame relay or Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM). Upon

reaching an ISP within the Internet, such as AOL, the ISP has its LNS RADIUS server 40

for providing the authentication, authorization, and accounting services.

The network 100 is not limited to the RADIUS server 40' but may encompass other types of servers and is preferably a DIAMETER server 40'. The DIAMETER

protocol is an enhancement to the RADIUS protocol and is backward compatible with the

RADIUS protocol. The RADIUS protocol has a limited command and attribute address

space and is not in itself an extensible protocol. The RADIUS protocol, furthermore,

assumes that there are no unsolicited messages from a server to a client. The

DIAMETER protocol, on the other hand, supports new services and permits a server to

send unsolicited messages to clients on a network. As a result, the RADIUS server 40', if

implemented as a DIAMETER server 40', supports messages from it to any of the Access

Servers 22. This allows the acquisition of additional state information applicable to the

resource tracker. Various proprietary "DIAMETER"-like client/server approaches may

also be used with the invention.

While Fig. 3 depicts access servers 22, the ISP is not delineated in the figure for

reasons that will become apparent from the following description. As explained in more

detail below, the access servers 22A to 22C may be operated by a single ISP or by

multiple ISPs. Furthermore, the ISPs may not operate the access servers 22 but instead

may have a data connection to the PSTN 10, with the circuit to packet adaptation being

performed through the access servers 22 by a different entity, such as by a Local

Exchange Company (LEC). Thus, the data calls intended for an ISP may be packetised

prior to being delivered to the ISP. A first ISP, for instance, may be connected to the

output of access server 22A, a second ISP may be connected to the output of access server

22B, and a third ISP may be connected to the output of access server 22C. A single ISP,

of course, may be connected to more than one access server 22, whereby a single ISP may

be connected to the outputs of all access servers 22A to 22C. The network 100 also includes a resource table 43. As will be explained in more

detail below, the resource table 43 may be connected to the INTRAC unit 45 or may

instead be connected to the resource tracker 50. Furthermore, although the resource table

43 has been shown as a separate element, the resource table 43 may be incorporated in

and form a part of the INTRAC unit 45 or the resource tracker 50. The connections

between the resource table 43 and both the INTRAC unit 45 and resource tracker 50 have

therefore been shown in dashed lines since the resource table 43 is not limited to its

illustrated location.

III. INTRAC

An operation according to one embodiment of the invention of the network 100

will now be described with reference to Fig. 4. At a step 61, a subscriber initiates a call to

its ISP through computer 14 and initiates a call to its ISP through one of the central

offices 16. At step 62, the central office 16 receives the called number from the

subscriber and is triggered to send a query to an SCP. This query is passed through an

STP 41 to the SCP 42.

At step 63, the SCP 42 receives the query from the central office 16 through the

STP 41 and determines whether the resource tracker 50 should be queried. According to

one aspect of the invention, the INTRAC unit 45 does not query the resource tracker 50

but instead processing continues at step 64 with the INTRAC unit 45 retrieving routing

directions for the ISP directly from the resource table 43. These routing directions are

returned in a response to the central office 16 at step 68.

The INTRAC unit 45, based on the reply from the resource table 43, determines whether sufficient resources are available at step 66 and formulates an appropriate

response to the SCP 42. This appropriate response contains routing directions for

directing the call to a preferred location within the PSTN. If the response from the

resource table 43 indicates that sufficient resources are available, then the INTRAC unit

45 at step 68 returns a response to the central office 16 which contains the routing

directions. On the other hand, if resources are not available, then the INTRAC unit 45 at

step 67 will return a response to the central office 16 terminating the call, such as by

providing a busy signal to the caller.

In the preferred embodiment, the central office 16 performs an LNP trigger and

sends an LNP query to the SCP 42. The routing directions returned in the response from

the INTRAC unit 45 at step 68 preferably contains the Local Routing Number (LRN) for

where the subscriber's call should be routed. Through use of the LNP trigger, LNP query,

and LRNs, calls to an ISP and other data-related calls can be directed away from the

PSTN 10 and onto dedicated trunks for data calls. As shown in Fig. 3, for instance, each

SSP or central office 16 is directly connected to an access server 22 and the LRN directs

the subscriber's call to a trunk group interconnecting the central office 16 to the access

servers 22.

The signaling between the SCP 42 and the STP 41 and central offices 16 is not

altered with the invention. The signaling to and from the SCP 42 conforms to Signaling

System 7 (SS7) and appears as a typical LNP inquiry and response.

At step 64, the INTRAC unit 45 retrieves the routing directions in any suitable

manner. The INTRAC unit 45 preferably uses the resource table 43 which holds the

LRNs for each ISP. When the INTRAC unit 45 receives a query from an SSP 16, the „ _,

17

INTRAC unit 45 performs a look-up function in the resource table 43 to find the

appropriate LRN for the called telephone number and returns the LRN in a response to

the LNP query at step 68.

IV. Resource Tracker

According to another aspect of the invention which involves the resource tracker

50, the INTRAC unit 45 formulates a resource query at step 65. The resource query, as

will be described in more detail below, is a query sent from the INTRAC unit 45 to the

resource tracker 50 to inquire as to the resources available for the subscribers call. The

resource tracker 50 receives the resource query and, in response, checks the available

resources of the ISP. Based on its evaluation of ISP resources through its connection to

the RADIUS server 40', the resource tracker 50 returns an appropriate response to the

INTRAC unit 45 with information about the available resources at step 66. According to

this embodiment, the resource table 43 is managed by the resource tracker 50. In

response to receiving the resource query, the resource tracker 50 consults with the

resource table 43 to find a preferred LRN for the subscriber's call.

The signaling between the access servers 22 and the RADIUS server 40' is not

changed with the invention. The access servers 22 communicate with the RADIUS server

40' according to the RADIUS accounting protocol, or other suitable protocols. The

resource tracker 50 preferably communicates with the INTRAC unit 45 according to

GR1129-CORE, a signaling protocol defined in AIN 0.2, although other protocols may be

used, such as 1129+, 1129A, TCP/IP, or another protocol. V. Call Routing

Regardless of how the INTRAC unit 45 obtains the LRN, the LRN is provided to

the switch to direct the call to a preferred location or trunk group. The LRN, for instance,

may redirect the subscriber's call to a different location or, alternatively, simply contains

the same telephone number called by the subscriber. The INTRAC unit 45 therefore may

rely upon the resource tracker 50 to redirect calls, to determine whether resources are

available to connect the subscribers call, or to determine whether the subscriber's call

should be terminated.

One advantage of the network 100 over the conventional network shown in Fig. 2

is that ISPs no longer need to have a concentrated Point of Presence (POP). Typically, as

shown in Fig. 2, an ISP 20 is connected to the PSTN 10 through a single egress switch

such as central office 16, through PRIs 24. This concentrated POP for the ISP 20 renders

it difficult and expensive to relocate the ISP 20 to another location, both for the ISP 20

and for the LEC. For the LEC, moving an ISP from one location to another location is

tremendously expensive since the LEC must build the infrastructure necessary to support

the ISP at the new location and the investment at the old location must be dismantled at a

great loss to the LEC.

The network 100 shown in Fig. 3, in contrast, does not require the ISP to have a

concentrated POP. Rather than directing all calls to an ISP through a single central office

16, each SSP 16 in network 100 preferably has a direct connection to the ISP through one

of the access servers 22. The LRN returned to the SSP therefore directs the SSP to a

specified trunk or trunk group in order to route the data call to the access servers 22. The

connections between the SSPs and the access servers are preferably PRI lines. By directing calls from each ingress switch to the access servers 22 and away from the PSTN,

costs associated with handling data calls are substantially reduced. For the ISP, the use of

LRNs to route calls from their subscribers offers flexibility in how the ISPs network are

built and distributed, both from a viewpoint of timing and geography.

VI. Resource Query

A process 70 for generating the resource query at step 65 of Fig. 4 will now be

described with reference to Fig. 5. The process 70 explains in more detail steps that occur

after a determination has already been made by the INTRAC unit 45 that a query should

be sent to the resource tracker 50. At a step 71 , after the INTRAC unit 45 receives the

query from the SSP, the INTRAC unit 45 sends a resource query to the resource tracker

50. The resource query includes the called telephone number, thereby designating the

ISP, and may also include the calling party's telephone number, thereby designating the

subscriber. At step 72, the INTRAC unit 45 receives a response from the resource tracker

50 and determines, at step 73, whether to generate any additional resource queries. These

additional resource queries, as discussed in more detail below, may query the resource

tracker 50 as to the available resources of other access servers or other ISPs. The

additional resource queries, moreover, may query the resource tracker 50 as to preferred

resources that are available for a particular subscriber. If additional queries are made,

then processing returns to step 71 where the resource query is formulated and to step 72

where the response is received from the resource tracker 50.

When no more resource queries are needed, the INTRAC unit 45 at step 74

evaluates the resources available to the subscriber. This evaluation focuses, according to established criteria, on the most desired access server, the most desired ISP, or other

factors that are influential in directing the subscriber's call. At step 75, the INTRAC unit

45 issues an appropriate reply to the central office 16. If resources are available for the

subscriber, then the reply sent to the central office 16 includes the LRN for routing the

subscriber's call.

The evaluation of resources may alternatively be performed by the resource

tracker 50 instead of by the INTRAC unit 45. The INTRAC unit 45 sends the resource

query to the resource tracker 50 with this query containing the called telephone number

and possibly also the calling party's telephone number. The resource tracker 50 selects

the desired LRN for the subscriber's call based on decision- tree routing stored within the

resource tracker 50. This decision-time routing can be customized for an ISP, an LEC, or

other entity. The resource tracker 50 checks the telephone number called by the

subscriber and return a response indicating whether resources are available at that

number. The resource tracker 50 may perform additional processing and find an optimal

LRN for the subscriber based on the called telephone number and possibly also based on

the calling party's telephone number. An advantage of having the evaluation of resources

performed at the resource tracker 50 is that the resource queries and the responses to these

queries can be eliminated.

VII. Tracking Resources

A method 80 for tracking the resources of an access server or ISP at the resource

tracker 50 will now be described with reference to Fig. 6. At a step 81, the resource

tracker 50 sets the maximum value of a counter to the peak capacity of the access server or ISP, or other desired maximum. As an example, if the ISP has 100 modems available,

the resource tracker 50 sets the counter to a value of 100. At step 82, the resource tracker

50 determines whether a change in a session has occurred. The RADIUS server 40', as

discussed above, receives start and stop messages from the access servers and ISPs when

sessions begin and when they terminate, respectively. The resource tracker 50 monitors

these start and stop messages and determines that a change in a session occurs when either

of these messages is received. At step 83, the resource tracker 50 determines whether a

session has started and, if so, decrements the counter at step 84. At step 85, the resource

tracker 50 determines whether a session has stopped and, if so, increments the counter at

step 86. The process 80 returns to step 82 to detect the next change in a session. The

available resources of each ISP are stored in the resource table 43. This functionality

remains the same whether the ISP's resources are provided by a single Access Server or

multiple Access Servers dispersed across a wide geographical area.

In general, through the method 80 and counters, the resource tracker 50 tracks the

number of available resources and reduces the value in the counter for each new session

that has started. Conversely, when a session terminates, the resource tracker 50

increments the counter to reflect new resources that have become available to the network

100. According to one aspect of the invention, the resource tracker 50 has a counter for

each ISP that it is monitoring and each counter reflects the total number of resources

available for that ISP. According to a further aspect of the invention, the resource tracker

50 has a plurality of counters for each ISP with each counter reflecting the available

resources within part of the ISP. Each counter, for instance, may be dedicated to a single

Point Of Presence (POP) managed by the ISP with a single ISP having plural POPs. As another example, each counter may be dedicated to a single access server within an ISP.

One access server, for instance, may provide K56 service and a second access server may

provide K56Flex service to its subscribers while yet another may offer more recently

developed modem techniques, such as V.90. Other uses and examples of the counters for

tracking and monitoring resources of an ISP will become apparent to those skilled in the

art.

The resources of the ISP can alternatively be monitored through the SCP 42 and

INTRAC unit 45. Through monitoring of call set-up signaling and termination

notification signaling to the ISP, the INTRAC unit 45 determines the resources available

at the ISP. The INTRAC unit 45, based on this determination, then updates the resource

table 43 to reflect the available resources.

VIII. Data Signaling

A preferred method of directing a subscriber's call to the INTRAC unit 45 will

now be described. When the subscriber's call is received at the SSP 16, the SSP 16

determines that the call is to a local number and is triggered to perform an LNP query. In

general, queries passed from an SSP to an SCP and responses from the SCP to the SSP

pass through a Common Channel Signaling System (CCS7) network that includes the

STPs. A CCS7 message is comprised of three parts: an MTP part that contains the

Routing Label, an SCCP part that contains the Global Title (GT), and a data field. The

data for a call setup is defined as ISDN User Part (ISUP) data and data for database

services is defined as Transaction Capability Application Part (TCAP) data.

An explanation will first be given for the signaling that occurs when a subscriber calls a ported telephone number which requires LNP call processing. The SSP 16

receiving the call inserts its point code in Originating Point Code (OPC) 96 and inserts the

capability of a local STP 41 pair in the Destination Point Code (DPC) 97, with the OPC

96 and DPC 97 together forming the Routing Label for the query 90. The Called Party

Address 94 of the query 90 includes a Global Title (GT) which the SSP 16 populates with

the ten-digit dialed telephone number and also includes a Sub-System Number (SSN)

which the SSP 16 populates with all zeros. In a Calling Party Address 93 part of the

SCCP 92, the SSP 16 inserts the point code for the SSP 16 and the AIN 0.1 Sub-System

Number for the SSP 16. The TCAP 91 part of the query 90 includes a Transaction ID

(TID) identifying the call, a Trigger Type (TT) identifying the type of trigger detected by

the SSP 16, and a Service Key (SK) equal to the ten-digit dialed number. The STP 41

receives this query 90 and performs a Global Title Translation (GTT) and changes the

Routing Label 95 before sending the query 90 to the SCP 42 that performs LNP call

processing.

An explanation of call signaling according to a preferred embodiment of the

invention will now be provided. When a subscriber call its ISP or otherwise makes a data

call, the SSP 16 receiving the call performs an LNP query 90 when the call is to a local

number. The LNP query 90, according to standard LNP call processing, is passed to the

STP 41 for Global Title Translation and the STP 41 launches a reformatted query 90 to

the SCP 42 for processing.

In contrast to a conventional LNP query 90, though, the LNP query 90 according

to the invention is rerouted when the call is a data call. A diagram of the SCP 42 and a

method 100 according to a preferred embodiment of processing the query 90 at the SCP 42 will now be described with reference to Figs. 8 and 9, respectively. The SCP 42

includes a Service Package Manager 102 for receiving queries from the STP 41 through

the CCS7 network, a database 103, the INTRAC unit 45, and an LNP processing unit 104.

In the preferred embodiment, the INTRAC unit 45 and the LNP processing unit 104 are

each a Service Package Application (SPA) within the SCP 42 and share the same SSN

and translations type. At a step 111, the Service Package Manager 102 within the SCP 42

receives the query 90 from the STP 41 through the CCS7 network. The Service Package

Manager 102 at step 112 compares the dialed telephone number in the Called Party

Address 93 field of the query 90 to numbers stored in database 103 to determine whether

the call is a data call, such as to an ISP. The telephone numbers identifying data calls are

preferably collected at a central location and downloaded to the various SCPs 42 through

a Service Management System 107.

If the dialed telephone number does not identify the call as a data call by the

primary Routing Key, then at step 113 the Service Package Manager 102 generates a

default Routing Key and passes the call for LNP call processing. A Routing Key is

comprised of an SSN, a Trigger Type, and a Service Key. The SSN in the Routing Key

typically is populated by an SCP with the SSN in the SCCP Called Party Address, and the

Trigger Type and Service Key are both acquired from the TCAP part of the query 90. At

step 113, the Routing Key is generated in the conventional manner and at step 114

standard LNP call processing is performed by the LNP processing unit 104. The LNP

processing unit 104 performs a look-up function in a database 105 and inserts the LRN of

an SSP 16 serving the called party in the Called Party Address 94 and inserts the actual

called-party telephone number is placed in a Generic Address Parameter (GAP) field. For an LNP query that does not involve a data call, the LNP call processing is not effected by

the INTRAC unit 45 and signaling within the PSTN occurs in the standard way.

In contrast, when the Service Package Manager 102 finds a match between the

dialed telephone number and an entry in the database 103 at step 112, then the Service

Package Manager 102 generates a Routing Key at step 115 specific for the INTRAC unit

45. This Routing Key contains the same Trigger Type and Service Key as those in the

Routing Key generated at step 113 for a call that should be routed to the LNP processing

unit 104. The SSN populated by the Service Package Manager 102 at step 1 15 is a SSN

unique to the INTRAC unit 45. Based on the Routing Key, the SCP 42 passes the query

90 to the INTRAC unit 45 at step 116 for further processing. The INTRAC unit 45, as

with the LNP processing unit 104, inserts a preferred LRN in the Called Party Address

94, with this LRN being obtained directly from the resource table 43, either through a

look-up function or through the resource tracker 50. Although the resource table 43 has

been shown separately from the SCP 42, it should be understood from the description

above that the resource table 43 would preferably be a real-time database on the SCP 42.

The resource table 43, for instance, may form a part of the database 105.

IX. Resource Table

A preferred example of the resource table 43 is shown in Fig. 10. The resource

table 43 includes a customer identification number uniquely identifying a particular ISP.

Although only two customer IDs have been shown in Fig. 10, the resource table 43

typically contains a greater number of customer IDs. For each customer ID, the resource

table 43 includes a number of telephone numbers assigned to that ISP with these telephone numbers being represented by telephone numbers 1 , 2, . . . N. The resource

table 43 further includes an entry for the volume of calls permitted to that ISP, such as 50

calls, and the present number of active calls. The resource table 43 may also include an

entry enabling the routing of overflow calls and also one or more entries designating the

LRNs for overflow calls.

With resource table 43, the resource tracker 50 or INTRAC unit 45 can easily

derive appropriate routing directions for a subscriber's call. By checking the peak volume

of the ISP and the number of active calls, the resource tracker 50 or INTRAC unit 45 can

determine whether calls can be routed to that ISP. If the ISP is at peak capacity, then the

resource tracker 50 or INTRAC unit 45 checks whether overflow capacity is enabled and,

if so, where the call should be routed. The customer identification and overflow routing

can be contained within a single ISP or may encompass a multitude of ISPs. A single

ISP, for instance, may have a plurality of "customer" identification numbers with each

customer ID relating to a separate class of service. In this manner, the resource tracker 50

or INTRAC unit 45 performs processing based on the desired class of service for a

subscriber. The overflow according to this arrangement directs calls to a less desired type

of service within the ISP or to other ISPs offering that service. The customer IDs may

instead be dedicated to different POPs of an ISP with subscribers preferably being

directed to the closest POP and with overflow calls being directed to other POPs of the

ISP. Instead of directing calls to another POP or type of service within a single ISP, the

overflow may direct calls to a secondary or back-up ISP. As will be appreciated by those

skilled in the art, the resource table 43 can be configured in various other ways and should

not be limited to the example shown in Fig. 10. X. Network Configurations

Based on the descriptions above, the network 100 can be configured in a multitude

of ways, depending upon the specific application. According to one aspect of the

invention, the network 100 does not include the resource tracker 50 and the INTRAC unit

45 does not perform any resource query. Instead, the INTRAC unit 45 receives queries

from the subscriber's SSP, derives a desired LRN from the resource table 43, and inserts

the desired LRN in a response returned to the SSP. The INTRAC unit 45 may simply

look up the LRN in the resource table 43 or may perform some processing of information

in the resource table 43 before arriving at the desired LRN.

According to another embodiment of the invention, the INTRAC unit 45 and SCP

42 may monitor the resources of the ISPs. As discussed above, the INTRAC unit 45

tracks the resources available in an ISP by monitoring call set-up signaling and

termination notification signaling. The INTRAC unit 45 can therefore direct the

subscriber's call to a preferred LRN and can also terminate the call if resources are not

available.

According to another aspect of the invention, the network 100 includes both the

INTRAC unit 45 and the resource tracker 50. The resource tracker 50 determines

whether the call initiated by the subscriber through computer 14 should be routed to the

ISP or should be intercepted based on the available resources. The resource tracker 50

determines whether the ISP has resources available for the subscriber and generates an

appropriate reply to the INTRAC unit 45 at step 66. If resources are available, the call is

completed in its usual manner through the PSTN 10 to the access server 22. If, on the other hand, resources are not available at the ISP, then the subscriber's call is intercepted

before further signaling occurs within the PSTN 10 and the subscriber receives a busy

signal at step 67. The network 100 according to this aspect of the invention connects the

subscriber to the ISP or intercepts the call and is able to reduce signaling within the

PSTN.

According to a further aspect of the invention, the network 100 includes both the

resource tracker 50 and INTRAC unit 45 and the resource tracker 50 returns a LRN to the

INTRAC unit 45. As discussed above, the LRN returned by the resource tracker 50 is

chosen from the resource table 43 based on any suitable criteria. In one example, the

resource tracker 50 selects the LRN based on a preferred access server 22. With reference

to Fig. 3, the access server 22 comprises a plurality of access servers 22A, 22B, and 22C.

When a subscriber calls in to any one of these access servers 22A, 22B, or 22C, an LNP

query is initiated at the central office 16 and a resource query is generated by the

INTRAC unit 45. The resource tracker 50, according to this example, tracks the resources

available for each of the access servers 22A, 22B, and 22C through one or more counters.

The resource tracker 50 includes the LRN in its response to the INTRAC unit 45 so that

the subscriber is directed to an access server 22 that has excess capacity. For instance, if

the access server 22 called by the subscriber is at peak capacity or is presently consuming

more than a certain threshold of capacity, the resource tracker 50 and INTRAC unit 45

direct the subscriber's call to the access server 22 having excess capacity. As an example,

an initial call from computer 14 to access server 22 A is redirected to access server 22C

when access server 22A is at peak capacity and access server 22C has excess capacity.

After the access server 22 with excess capacity has been located, the INTRAC unit 45 inserts the LRN to direct the subscribers call to this access server 22 and returns the

response to the central office 16 through the STP 41. To the central office 16 and the

PSTN 10, the telephone number called by the subscriber appears to have been a ported

number and the PSTN 10 provides the appropriate LRN for the subscriber's call.

The criteria used in selecting the preferred LRN is not limited to a particular

access server within a single ISP, but rather may be used to allocate resources between

two or more ISPs. For instance, when resources for a first ISP are at peak capacity or

above a certain threshold level of capacity, the INTRAC unit 45 redirects calls away from

that first ISP to a second ISP having excess capacity. The resource queries sent from the

INTRAC unit 45 are therefore concerned not only about the capacity within the first ISP

but can also look to the resources of other ISPs. Thus, for instance, if MindSpring is at

peak capacity, the INTRAC unit 45 and resource tracker 50 can redirect MindSpring

subscribers to a secondary ISP, such as BellSouth.net.

Instead of, or in addition to, the criteria of access server and ISP, the LRN may be

selected based on particular information concerning the subscriber. According to this

example, the resource tracker 50 and INTRAC unit 45 direct a subscriber to a preferred

resource for that particular subscriber. The RADIUS server 40', as discussed above,

contains configuration information on each subscriber to an ISP, including information on

the type of service that the subscriber is configured for with the ISP. The INTRAC unit

45 and resource tracker 50 can thus find an access server or ISP that offers the preferred

service or resource for that subscriber. As an example, for a subscriber having an X2

modem, the LRN selected by the INTRAC unit 45 and resource tracker 50 directs the

subscriber's call to a resource that provide X2 service, rather than the K56Flex service. The INTRAC unit 45 and resource tracker 50 preferably first check the resources of the

access server 22 called by the subscriber, followed by other access servers 22 managed by

the subscriber's ISP, and then to other ISPs, if enabled, that can offer service for that

subscriber. The configuration information used by the INTRAC unit 45 and resource

tracker 50 in directing the subscriber's call is not limited to modem type but may

encompass other types of information, such as the type of service delivered to the

subscriber. Also, additional information may be stored in the RADIUS server 40' and

used by resource tracker 50 in directing calls within the PSTN.

The evaluation of the best LRN for a subscriber can be performed by the resource

tracker 50, the INTRAC unit 45, or both the resource tracker 50 and INTRAC unit 45.

The invention is not limited to having the selection being performed only by the INTRAC

unit 45 but instead encompasses the selection being performed by the resource tracker 50

or the selection being shared by the resource tracker 50 and INTRAC unit 45.

According to a further aspect of the invention, the resource tracker 50

automatically sends updates to the INTRAC unit 45 upon a change in resources for an ISP

or at a predetermined period of time or set time. In the examples discussed above, the

INTRAC unit 45 only receives a response from the resource tracker 50 after the INTRAC

unit 45 sends a resource ISP query. The resource tracker 50 may instead update the

resource table 43 whenever a subscriber begins or ends a session. The resource table 43

for tracking the resources available for an access server or ISP can therefore be connected

to the INTRAC unit 45, whereby the INTRAC unit 45 would not query the RADIUS

server 40' and resource tracker 50 to determine available network resources.

Data calls, as discussed above, pose a problem to the PSTN in that they have long call durations (LCDs) and consume valuable resources of the PSTN. The LECs

experience another problem related to the routing of data calls. The ISPs contend that

they are another carrier and are entitled to an access charge for receiving the call from the

LEC. Although the validity of this argument is in doubt, the LECs have been placing

money into a special account for each call connected to an ISP. A problem to the LEC is

that the calls to the ISP are always one-way whereby the LECs cannot charge the ISPs for

calls that terminate in the LECs network from the ISP.

The network 100 allows the LEC to redirect data calls off of the PSTN to an

alternate interconnection arrangement. Through the arrangement shown in Fig. 3, LECs

are now able to not only monitor and better manage calls to the ISPs, but can also meter

the length of data calls to an ISP as well as other data calls. Since each start and stop

message sent to the RADIUS server 40' is monitored by the resource tracker 50 and since

each start or stop message identifies the caller as well as the ISP, the resource tracker 50

may track the total amount of time that calls were connected to an ISP. The resource

tracker 50 can track the time in a multitude of ways. As one example, the resource tracker

50 effectively has a timer associated with each call that is directed toward an ISP and

starts the timer in conjunction with decrementing the counter at step 84 and stops the

timer in conjunction with incrementing the counter at step 86. The times associated with

connections to an ISP can be stored in the resource table 43. Alternatively, rather than

monitor actual time, the resource tracker 50, INTRAC unit 45, or access servers 22 may

monitor the actual payload delivered to the ISP. Furthermore, rather than the resource

tracker 50 monitoring the time, the INTRAC unit 45 may monitor the times associated

with an ISP and store the times in the resource table 43. The forgoing description of the preferred embodiments of the invention has been

presented only for the purpose of illustration and description and is not intended to be

exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed. Many modifications

and variations are possible in light of the above teaching.

For example, the INTRAC unit 45 preferably resides on the SCP 42 and the

resource tracker 50 resides on the RADIUS server 40'. The INTRAC unit 45 and

resource tracker 50, however, may comprise separate components distinct from the

RADIUS server 40' and SCP 42.

As discussed above with reference to Fig. 4, when resources are not available to

handle a subscriber's call, the call is terminated. The invention is not limited in the

manner in which the call is terminated. The call, for instance, may be terminated by

providing the calling party with a busy signal. One possible way of providing this busy

signal is directing the subscriber's call to a "dummy" port on the switch which has no

trunk group. As another example, the calling party may be played an announcement with

this announcement informing the caller that the ISP or other entity that the caller is trying

to reach is not able to accept the call.

The invention has been described primarily with reference to a subscriber's call

directed to an ISP. The invention, however, is not limited to calls directed to just an ISP

but encompasses any data call. The invention, for instance, may be used to control and

manage calls to a data network other than the Internet, such as a company's internal

computer network.

The INTRAC unit 45, as discussed above, is preferably co-resident with the LNP

processing unit 104 on the same SCP 42. By placing the INTRAC unit 45 with the LNP processing unit 104, the LEC can reduce its cost and avoid the need to deploy a set of

SCPs dedicated for routing data calls separate from the set of SCPs that provide LNP call

processing. The invention is not limited to any particular SCP. For an SCP that has both

the LNP processing unit 104 and the INTRAC unit 45, the SCP 42 is preferably a Lucent

SCP having a Release 6.9 or higher, such as the Starserver FT Model 3300, although any

SCP that allows for the use of Routing Keys with different Sub-System Numbers may be

used.

The invention, moreover, is not limited to the PSTN but may be employed in other

networks, such as a Private Branch Exchange (PBX). In a PBX, for instance, the

INTRAC unit can intelligently route traffic to a certain destinations. The calls that are

processed by the INTRAC unit therefore are not limited to just data calls but instead the

INTRAC unit may be used in the intelligent routing of voice or other types of calls.

The embodiments were chosen and described in order to explain the principles of

the invention and their practical application so as to enable others skilled in the art to

utilize the invention and various embodiments and with various modifications as are

suited to the particular use contemplated.

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Non-Patent Citations
Reference
1 *SCHOEN U ET AL: "CONVERGENCE BETWEEN PUBLIC SWITCHING AND THE INTERNET", ISS '97. WORLD TELECOMMUNICATIONS CONGRESS. (INTERNATIONAL SWITCHIN SYMPOSIUM), GLOBAL NETWORK EVOLUTION: CONVERGENCE OR COLLISION? TORONTO, SEPT. 21 - 26, 1997, vol. 1, 21 September 1997 (1997-09-21), ABE S ET AL, pages 549 - 560, XP000720563
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
WO2000067428A1 *2 May 20009 Nov 2000Bridgewater Systems CorporationSystem and method of internet access and load management
Classifications
International ClassificationH04Q3/00
Cooperative ClassificationH04Q2213/13095, H04Q3/0029, H04Q2213/13141, H04Q2213/13097, H04Q2213/13389, H04Q2213/13102, H04Q2213/13345, H04Q2213/13196, H04Q3/0045
European ClassificationH04Q3/00D3H, H04Q3/00D3
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