The patent's assignee is
News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "This invention relates generally to wireless telecommunications. More particularly, it relates to short message services (SMS) to mobile devices.
"Wireless service providers furnish subscribers with a multitude of wireless capabilities in return for compensation of services bestowed. Wireless service plans conventionally fall in to one of two categories: postpaid wireless or prepaid wireless.
"In a postpaid wireless plan, a user enters into a long-term billing arrangement, i.e., a contractual agreement, with a particular service provider. Wireless service providers conventionally charge subscribers on a monthly basis for services consumed throughout the previous month. A consumer is billed for wireless usage according to terms articulated in a predefined wireless contract, in addition to any supplementary charges acquired in extra service fees, e.g., fees for services exceeding those offered in a wireless plan, international/long-distance fees, etc.
"Alternatively, in a prepaid wireless plan, a subscriber purchases credit prior to service consumption. Purchased credit is then used to pay for wireless services as services are expended, i.e., Pay-As-You-Go. If a subscriber's prepaid wireless account no longer contains available credit, the subscriber is denied access to wireless services. The available balance in a prepaid wireless account may be queried by an affiliated service provider at any given time. Additionally, the amount of credit in a prepaid wireless account may be replenished at any given time via one of a multitude of payment mechanisms, e.g., a credit card interface, an SMS message, an Internet application, etc.
"Prepaid wireless solutions enable a wireless service provider to accommodate individuals who are unable/unwilling to commit to a long-term service contract. In fact, fewer contractual obligations and minimal preliminary requirements have led to an enormous growth in prepaid wireless subscription.
"Another wireless topology that continues to grow in popularity is the Short Message Service (SMS). The Short Message Service (SMS) is currently the most widely utilized data application in the world.
"Short Message Service (SMS) enables bidirectional transmission of short alpha-numeric messages to and from a Short Message Entity (SME), i.e., a device or system capable of sending and receiving short messages.
"A Short Message Service Center (SMSC) is an essential element in an SMS network. In operation, the
"A Home Location Register (HLR) in an SMS network encompasses a central database comprised of SMS subscriber information.
"In light of a surge of interest in the prepaid wireless scheme, many wireless carriers are beginning to offer prepaid wireless as an additional source of revenue. Though, prepaid messaging solutions still encompass a rather complex and often incomplete billing system.
"Existing prepaid SMS solutions comprise a post-delivery prepaid SMS solution, a pre-delivery prepaid SMS solution, and a Reserve and Debit prepaid SMS solution.
"The post-delivery prepaid SMS solution tariffs a short message following message transmission. In particular, the
"Unfortunately, querying the prepaid server following message delivery enables a message to be delivered for free, in the event that an SMS message is delivered to a prepaid subscriber with an insufficient account balance. The post-delivery prepaid SMS solution does not maintain any means of preventing an SMS message from being delivered based on a destination subscriber's lack of account credit. Hence, regardless of the balance in a destination subscriber's prepaid account, the subscriber's mobile device continues to receive SMS messages. Free message delivery ultimately results in a loss of profit for participating wireless service providers.
"The pre-delivery prepaid SMS solution tariffs a short message prior to message delivery. In particular, the
"Unfortunately, the pre-delivery prepaid SMS solution is incapable of attaining billing information ordinarily discovered throughout the message delivery process. In particular, the individual network that is serving a destination device is not discovered until the
"A Reserve and Debit SMS solution reserves a base fee prior to SMS delivery, but does not bill a subscriber until message delivery has concluded. In particular, the
"Complete billing is attainable in the Reserve and Debit SMS solution. The Reserve query assures that the amount of credit in a subscriber's account is at least enough to cover the base message delivery fee. Thus, messages are prevented from being delivered free of cost. Additionally, the post-delivery debit query transmitted to the prepaid server, assures that any additional fees discovered throughout message delivery are billed to the subscriber's account.
"Unfortunately, complete billing is attainable in a Reserve and Debit SMS solution, but not always guaranteed. The possibility remains that a subscriber may have sufficient account credit to cover the basic message delivery fee reserved prior to message delivery. Though, a subscriber's prepaid account may not contain the funds required to cover additional fees discovered throughout message delivery. Thus, the Reserve and Debit SMS solution may result in unpaid additional service fees, e.g., roaming fees, international fees, etc. Additionally, the Reserve and Debit SMS solution is not widely supported.
"It is apparent that wireless service providers are experiencing revenue leaks due to the incompetency of existing prepaid messaging solutions.
"In an attempt to minimize the amount of revenue lost, certain wireless providers limit the scope of services and coverage offered to prepaid wireless customers. For instance, certain prepaid wireless providers may block messages destined to any mobile device currently operating on an international network. Moreover, a prepaid subscriber may not have the ability to roam. Yet, limiting the scope of provided services may additionally limit the quantity of interested consumers, likewise resulting in a decrease of revenue for wireless service providers."
As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "In accordance with the principles of the present invention, a method for handling a prepaid messaging service comprises billing a subscriber for message delivery via two successive debit queries to a prepaid server. A short message is tariffed prior to message delivery via a pre-delivery debit query to a prepaid server. During message delivery, the prepaid server is queried a second time, following the
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
"Features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following description with reference to the drawings, in which:
"FIG. 1 depicts an exemplary network structure, in accordance with the principles of the present invention.
"FIG. 2 depicts an exemplary process of implementing a prepaid messaging service, in accordance with the principles of the present invention."
For additional information on this patent application, see: Gao, Donghong; Tuttle, Lewis. Prepaid Short Message Services Revenue Capture. Filed
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