|Publication number||USRE44201 E1|
|Application number||US 10/138,911|
|Publication date||7 May 2013|
|Filing date||2 May 2002|
|Priority date||24 Jul 1997|
|Also published as||CA2243788A1, CA2243788C, US6073007, WO1999005799A1|
|Publication number||10138911, 138911, US RE44201 E1, US RE44201E1, US-E1-RE44201, USRE44201 E1, USRE44201E1|
|Inventors||Thomas F. Doyle|
|Original Assignee||Qualcomm Incorporated|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (25), Non-Patent Citations (5), Classifications (16), Legal Events (6)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
I. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to mobile communication. More particularly, the present invention relates to a novel and improved method and apparatus for providing separable personal and business mobile wireless communications service using a wireless fleet communications system.
II. Description of the Related Art
Wireless fleet communications systems allow the vehicles in a commercial vehicle fleet (typically tractor-trailer trucks) to stay in communication with a central management office using highly mobile wireless satellite links. The wireless links are formed by radio frequency (RF) signals relayed between mobile communications terminals (MCT) and a hub using an earth orbiting satellite. A system and method for implementing a wireless fleet management system is described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,979,170 entitled “ALTERNATING SEQUENTIAL HALF DUPLEX COMMUNICATION SYSTEM” assigned to the assignee of the present invention and incorporated herein by reference. The MCTs are typically located within the fleet vehicles (tractor-trailer trucks) and are typically comprised of a digital computer combined with a RF transceiver system. An MCT typically includes a keyboard or other user input device and a display system such as and LCD.
Generally, business related communications are conducted using a wireless fleet communication system. Such business related communications include the load status, location and condition of the fleet vehicle or driver, and instructions to the fleet driver as to the next desired destination. This information enables a central management office to better assess the state of, and control, its vehicle fleet so as to best use fleet resources. Typically, transmitting this type of information in a mobile fashion reduces the need for the vehicle drivers to stop, and therefore increases fleet use efficiency.
While conducting business related communications using a wireless fleet communications system reduces the number of stops necessary to make business related calls, fleet drivers must also stop on occasion to make important personal calls. For example, a fleet driver may need to take care of financial or family health matters, or inquire about family news. Making such personal calls reduces “on road” time, and therefore decreases fleet utilization. In addition, it is difficult for the driver's family to reach him or her if something should arise needing immediate contact. Sometimes the family must contact the fleet's dispatcher and request that the dispatcher contact the driver to request that he call the family. This is a distraction to the fleet's operations staff, and is unsettling to the family because of the lack of privacy due to the dispatcher's involvement.
While fleet drivers could transmit a personal message to the central management office using the wireless fleet management system, these personal communications will have to be viewed and relayed by the management personnel. This is undesirable both from the fleet driver's perspective, due to privacy considerations, and from the fleet management's perspective, as processing and relaying such message is time consuming. Also, since the drivers' personal communications are not separated from the fleet's, the fleet would bear the cost of the drivers' messages or would need to create an administrative system to deduct the costs from driver earnings or otherwise collect from drivers. Thus, the present invention is directed to further increasing fleet utilization, as well as providing additional convenience to the fleet drivers, without significantly increasing cost to fleet management, by providing both private and business communications services in a wireless fleet communications system.
The present invention is a novel and improved method and apparatus for providing separable personal and business mobile wireless communications services using a wireless fleet management system. A message is received having a certain “type” designation, which is used to associate it with message privacy level and billing rules. The type designation is preferably provided in a bit field within the message. For example, the type could be specified by the selection of a particular macro number. The message is processed within the wireless fleet management system when the message is a fleet message, and at a message management center when said message is a personal message. The message is preferably deleted after being forwarded to the message management center. Also, the costs of transmitting personal type messages is billed to the driver or the message management center. In one embodiment of the invention, the messages are transmitted via a wireless satellite link between a mobile communications terminal and a network management system. A fleet computer receives the messages from the network management system and, after determining whether they are personal or fleet messages, processes them as described.
The features, objects, and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the detailed description set forth below when taken in conjunction with the drawings in which like reference characters identify correspondingly throughout and wherein:
NMC 16 is coupled to fleet computers 18a and 18b, as well as other fleet computers not shown for ease of drawing. The connections can be formed in various ways including a periodic dial up connection, dedicated wireline link, local area network or other wireless links. Fleet computers 18 are preferably conventional computer systems such as PC compatible computers or mini or mainframe systems configured with software for processing messages from NMC 16. Additionally, fleet computers 18 are typically located at the corresponding fleet headquarters, while NMC 16 is located at the wireless fleet communications service provider. Fleet management is typically a customer of the wireless fleet communication service provider.
Fleet computer 18a is connected to message management centers (MMC) 20a and 20b via dial-up or dedicated connection. MMC's 20 are preferably run by a third party communications service provider such as an internet service provider (ISP), paging or other telecommunications service provider. In the exemplary embodiment shown in
During operation, MCT 10 transmits both personal and business messages to NMC 16, as selected by the input of a fleet driver. In an exemplary embodiment of the invention, MCT 10 displays a set of message options, or “macros,” that may be selected by the fleet driver via input into a keyboard that is part of MCT 10. One of the macros specifies the transmission of a personal message, and if selected requests the address to which the personal message is sent. Other macros select business messages. Once selected, the message is transmitted to NMC 16 via the wireless link.
Preferably, the type of message being transmitted is indicated within that message. That is, whether the message is a personal or business message is indicated within the message itself, using a message type field or other message type indication information. Including message type information provides message separability between personal messages and business related fleet messages. In one embodiment of the invention, the message type is preferably indicated within a macro number field contained in the message. Certain macro numbers are designated for personal messages and other macro numbers are designated for business messages. Also, the message preferably contains a fleet identification field indicating, or allowing identification of, the particular fleet with which the message is associated. If the message is a personal message, the identify of the fleet driver is preferably indicated in a driver ID field. The fleet driver may be indicated implicitly by specifying the serial number or other identification information of an MCT 10 assigned to a particular driver. The message may also contain a personal identification number (PIN) known only to the fleet driver to ensure that it is the true and correct fleet driver transmitting the message. Various other methods for indicating the message type, fleet identify and message originator (driver) identity will be apparent. Additionally, the destination is indicated within the message using one or more destination fields.
NMC 16 receives a message and determines the associated fleet using the fleet indication field and the message type using the message type field. In a first exemplary processing, when the message is associated with the fleet corresponding to fleet computer 18a, the message is forwarded to fleet computer 18a. Additionally, the messages are separated based on the message type. If the message is a fleet message, then the cost of transmitting the message is billed to the fleet management corresponding to fleet computer 18a. If the message is a personal message, the cost of transmitting the message is billed to the fleet driver, or the fleet driver's selected communications service provider. Thus, message separability is provided using the message type field.
Upon receipt of the message, fleet computer 18a also examines the message type field to determine if the message is a fleet message or a personal message. The messages are then separated and processed based on the message type. If the message is a fleet message, it is preferably processed by fleet computer 18a. Such processing can include notification that the message has been received, display of the message, so that management personal may view it, storage of the message for recording purposes, or a combination thereof.
If the message is a personal message, fleet computer 18a performs a service provider look-up whereby the preferred service provider of the corresponding fleet driver is determined based on the driver ID field. The preferred service providers for a set of particular drivers is preferably stored in a database maintained within fleet computer 18a (not shown), although other methods and locations for such storage are consistent with the use of the present invention. Once the preferred service provider is determined, the message is forwarded to the associated MMC 20, and the message is then deleted from fleet computer 18a. Fleet computer also performs message format conversion between the message format used by the fleet communication system and the message format used by the internet and MMC 20 (for example TCP/IP) before forwarding the message.
If mobile communications terminal 10 provides voice communications service, the service provider maybe a local exchange carrier (LEC) corresponding to MMC 20a. A LEC is generally the local telephone service provider. Upon receipt of the voice message from fleet computer 18a, MMC 20a stores the voice message until the voice message mail box is checked using home phone 22. Thus, the personal voice message has been delivered using MCT 10 without requiring the fleet driver to stop fleet vehicle 12. Thus, the number of necessary stops is reduced which, in turn, increases fleet use efficiency.
Similarly, if MCT 10 provides data messaging service such as e-mail, the service provider maybe an internet service provider as shown for MMC 20b. In this case, fleet computer 18a forwards the data message to MMC 20b and then deletes the message. Upon receipt of the message from fleet computer 18a, MMC 20b either forwards the message to home computer 26 via internet 28, or stores the message until home computer 26 comes on line. Home computer 28 may also access MMC 29b using a direct dial-up connection over PSTN 24. Once again, the personal message has been delivered using the wireless link, and therefore without requiring the fleet driver to stop fleet vehicle 12, while maintaining the confidentiality of the message and correctly allocating the cost of that message transmission. Thus, the fleet driver has been provided with additional convenience and value while placing minimal burden on the fleet management.
An alternative method for processing messages is illustrated by the processing associated with messages from a fleet vehicle associated with fleet computer 18b. Upon determining that a message is associated with fleet computer 18b, NMC 16 further determines the message type.
If the message is a fleet message it is forwarded to fleet computer 18b, and the cost of the message is billed to fleet management by creating a billing record in a billing database. If the message is a personal message, it is forwarded directly to MMC 20c, which can be various types of systems including an internet service provider or a LEC as described above. Additionally, the cost of the message is billed to the fleet driver by entry of a billing record in the billing database. MMC 20c stores the message and routes it to a home computer 28 whenever the home computer 28 comes on line. Home computer 28 may also log directly into message management center 20c via the PSTN 24 in alternative embodiments of the invention.
Billing can be performed via a debit account whereby the fleet driver maintains a balance with either fleet management, the wireless communications service provider, or the message management center. When a personal message is processed the debit account is depleted by the cost of the message. A credit account may be substituted for the debit account. When a personal message is transmitted an entry is made in the credit account. At the end of a month or some other period of time, the entries are summed, and a bill sent to the fleet driver. On line transfer of funds may be performed as well, where funds are transferred from a remotely located account in response to the transmission of a personal message.
In still another embodiment of the invention, fleet management pays the cost of transmitting personal messages, and the fleet driver reimburses fleet management. Of course, the fleet driver could be billed directly by the wireless telecommunications service provider operating the network management center, or the network service provider could be billed by the wireless telecommunications service provider. Also, the determination of proper billing does not have to be performed at the same location where message routing is performed.
By having NMC 16 forward personal messages directly to MMC 20c, rather than to the fleet computer as performed for fleet computer 18a, the ability to transmit both fleet and personal messages using the wireless link is provided without consuming additional processing resources of fleet computer 18b while also allowing the cost of the message to be billed correctly. This further reduces the burden placed on fleet management. Additionally, by avoiding transfer of personal message messages to fleet computer 18b, the privacy of such messages is enhanced over messages transmitted by way of fleet computer 18b and then deleted.
The present invention may also incorporate the use of address blocking, or address selection. For address blocking, fleet computer 18a or network management center 16 maintains a list of addresses for each fleet driver. Any requests to communicate with a fleet driver from an address on the blocking list are then rejected. For address selection, addresses are stored within fleet computer 18a or network management center 16 and called up by preassigned tags or “nicknames” provides by the fleet driver during transmission of the message.
Another possible method for distinguishing between personal and private messages is via the address of or phone number to which the message is directed, or from which the message originates. This method is less desirable, however, in that the type service provided to each address must be predetermined. The use of a message type allows different treatment and processing of messages to be performed to any address and phone number, thus providing greater flexibility over the use of address and telephone number to determine the correct message processing.
If message type field 44 indicates a personal message, internal message routing unit 46 passes data message 40 to external message router system 50. External message router system 50 examines the driver ID 41 and determines the preferred service provider by performing a look-up within driver ID database 52. Based of the preferred service provider, external message routing unit 50 forwards data message 40 to a particular MMC.
Processing within fleet computer 18b begins at step 80 and at step 82 the message is received from MCT 10 by way of the wireless link and NMC 16 of
Thus, a communications systems providing separable personal and business communication services that increases fleet utilization has been described. By providing an MCT 10 that transmits messages including a message type field and a driver ID field, and a fleet computer that forwards the message to a message management center if the message is a personal message, both personal and fleet message communications services are provided using the same wireless fleet communications system. The different processing also provides message privacy and correct cost allocation. Providing both fleet message and personal message communication services using the same wireless fleet communication minimizes the number of stops made by a fleet driver, and therefore increases fleet usage efficiency.
The previous description of the preferred embodiments is provided to enable any person skilled in the art to make or use the present invention. The various modifications to these embodiments will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art, and the generic principles defined herein may be applied to other embodiments without the use of the inventive faculty. Thus, the present invention is not intended to be limited to the embodiments shown herein but is to be accorded the widest scope consistent with the principles and novel features disclosed herein.
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|U.S. Classification||455/412.1, 455/445, 455/426.1, 455/401, 379/210.01, 455/412.2|
|International Classification||G06Q10/08, H04L29/08, H04B7/185, H04L29/06, H04M1/65|
|Cooperative Classification||H04L69/329, H04L67/12, G06Q10/08, H04L29/06, H04B7/18567|
|11 Dec 2007||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: QUALCOMM INCORPORATED, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:DOYLE, THOMAS F.;REEL/FRAME:020229/0339
Effective date: 20071207
|5 Dec 2013||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: ROYAL BANK OF CANADA, CANADA
Free format text: FIRST LIEN PATENT SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:OMNITRACS, INC.;REEL/FRAME:031765/0877
Effective date: 20131125
|13 Dec 2013||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: ROYAL BANK OF CANADA, CANADA
Free format text: SECOND LIEN PATENT SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:OMNITRACS, INC.;REEL/FRAME:031814/0843
Effective date: 20131125
|30 Apr 2014||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: OMNITRACS, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: PATENT ASSIGNMENT AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:QUALCOMM INCORPORATED;REEL/FRAME:032785/0834
Effective date: 20131122
|2 May 2014||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: OMNITRACS, LLC, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:OMNITRACS, INC.;REEL/FRAME:032814/0239
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|30 Jan 2017||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: OMNITRACS, LLC, TEXAS
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Effective date: 20150107