News Column

Patent Issued for Prepaid Short Messaging

June 11, 2014

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Telecommunications Weekly -- From Alexandria, Virginia, VerticalNews journalists report that a patent by the inventors Titus, Mark (Arnold, MD); Ung, Dara (Odenton, MD); Johnson, Jr., Carle S. (Annapolis, MD); Wallace, Erik (Annapolis, MD); Geil, Phillip (Clarksville, MD); Hronek, Daniel (Annapolis, MD), filed on May 7, 2012, was published online on May 27, 2014.

The patent's assignee for patent number 8738496 is TeleCommunication Systems, Inc. (Annapolis, MD).

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "This invention relates generally to short messaging systems. More particularly, it relates to prepaid billing of short message services.

"Prepaid voice services exist. In a prepaid voice scenario, as part of the establishment of a telephone call, a service queries a database for a particular subscriber to determine if there is at least a given amount of funds available to pay for a call about to be made. In such a prepaid voice scenario, the ultimate cost of the desired telephone call is not known at that time, because the caller may not know the exact length of time that they would like to speak. Thus, a `minimum` cost of the telephone call given the location of the called party (e.g., for a 3 minute call) may be determined, and compared to the remaining balance in the caller's service account. If there is sufficient money remaining to pay for at least the minimum cost of the telephone call (e.g., to pay for a minimum 3 minute call), then the call is allowed to go through and be established.

"In the conventional prepaid voice system, when the subscriber's account has been exhausted or nearly exhausted, the subscriber is initially warned about the dwindling account balance. Ultimately, if the account balance is not replenished in time, the telephone call will be terminated due to lack of funds.

"Conventionally, when a called party does not answer a telephone call, a voice message may be left in a voice mailbox. However, since the telephone call was not answered, there typically is no tariffing or cost applied to the subscriber's account. While this may be advantageous to the subscriber, the wireless carrier service does not recover costs with respect to that voice message.

"Nevertheless, while prepayment for voice telephone calls has been accomplished, existing technologies have not applied the concepts of pre-payment to the world of short messaging (e.g., Internet messaging delivery services) as have prepaid wireless voice & calling cards. The lack of pre-payment service for messaging increases the possibility for fraudulent billing with respect to payment collections, particularly with respect to the high demand for wireless information services.

"There is a need for an architecture and method for providing prepaid messaging services."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "In accordance with the principles of the present invention, a method and apparatus for handling a prepaid messaging service comprises tariffing a short message before transmission. An account database is queried to determine if an account corresponding to an addressed party of the short message has sufficient funds to pay for transmission of the short message. If the account has sufficient funds, the short message is transmitted."

For additional information on this patent, see: Titus, Mark; Ung, Dara; Johnson, Jr., Carle S.; Wallace, Erik; Geil, Phillip; Hronek, Daniel. Prepaid Short Messaging. U.S. Patent Number 8738496, filed May 7, 2012, and published online on May 27, 2014. Patent URL:

Keywords for this news article include: Legal Issues, TeleCommunication Systems Inc..

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Source: Telecommunications Weekly

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