(19)
(11)EP 2 560 359 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
30.09.2020 Bulletin 2020/40

(21)Application number: 12183299.2

(22)Date of filing:  17.03.2006
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
H04M 11/06(2006.01)
H04M 3/30(2006.01)

(54)

USER-Preference-based wireles communication system

Auf der Benutzerpräferenz basierendes drahtloses Kommunikationssystem

Système de communication sans fil basé sur les préférences de l'utilisateur


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC NL PL PT RO SE SI SK TR

(30)Priority: 10.06.2005 US 689362 P
10.07.2005 US 698113 P
28.01.2006 US 342003

(43)Date of publication of application:
20.02.2013 Bulletin 2013/08

(62)Application number of the earlier application in accordance with Art. 76 EPC:
06727414.2 / 1911256

(73)Proprietor: ASSIA SPE, LLC
Wilmington, DE 19801 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • Cioffi, John
    Atherton, CA California CA 94027 (US)
  • Rhee, Wonjong
    San Francisco, CA California CA 94158 (US)
  • Silverman, Peter
    Evanston, IL Illinois IL 60202 (US)
  • Ginis, Georgios
    San Francisco, CA California CA 94107 (US)

(74)Representative: Boult Wade Tennant LLP 
Salisbury Square House 8 Salisbury Square
London EC4Y 8AP
London EC4Y 8AP (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
US-A1- 2004 230 444
US-A1- 2005 123 027
US-A1- 2005 066 033
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    BACKGROUND


    Technical Field



    [0001] This invention relates generally to methods, systems and apparatus for managing digital communications systems.

    Description of Related Art



    [0002] Digital subscriber line (DSL) technologies provide potentially large bandwidth for digital communication over existing telephone subscriber lines (referred to as loops and/or the copper plant). In particular, DSL systems can adjust to the characteristics of the subscriber line by using a discrete multitone (DMT) line code that assigns a number of bits to each tone (or sub-carrier), which can be adjusted to channel conditions as determined during training and initialization of the modems (typically transceivers that function as both transmitters and receivers) at each end of the subscriber line.

    [0003] DSL systems are configurable to a degree that allows certain trade-offs among and between performance aspects of such DSL systems. Thus, the configuration of a DSL system often has an effect on customers' satisfaction in their use of the DSL service. Users and other non-operators have not been capable to obtain, record, evaluate and/or implement performance aspects that are most significant to users and to configure a DSL system to accommodate such preferences.

    [0004] US 2004/230444 describes methods, systems, and computer program products for providing different quality of service/bandwidth allocation to different subscribers for interactive gaming via a Regional/Access Network (RAN). The RAN can provide end-to-end transport between a Gaming Application Service Provider (GASP) and a Customer Premises Network (CPN) that includes a Routing Gateway (RG). Quality of Service (QoS) and/or bandwidth allocation can be provided by determining different levels of subscription service for different subscribers to an interactive game between a plurality of participants. Different QoS and/or bandwidth allocations can be provided to different gaming traffic flows associated with the different subscribers to the interactive game based on the different levels of subscription service of the different subscribers.

    [0005] US 2005/123027 describes systems and methods for estimating a communication system configuration, such as a DSL system, based on operational data collected from a network element management system, protocol, users and/or the like. The operational data collected from the system can include performance-characterizing operational data that typically is available in an ADSL system via element-management-system protocols. Generated estimates and/or approximations can be used in evaluating system performance and directly or indirectly dictating/requiring changes or recommending improvements in operation by transmitters and/or other parts of the communication system.

    [0006] US 2005/066033 describes a system and process for dynamically determining a best network service for an electronic computing device. A network query module queries two or more active networks to determine the network characteristics, such as bandwidth, security level, and cost, of each network. A service level module determines a service level associated with each active network. The service level is determined based on an algorithm using the network characteristics of each network. A best network module determines the best network from the active networks based on the service levels of each network, and a network connection module dynamically connects the electronic computing device to the best network.

    [0007] Systems, apparatus, methods and techniques that provide improvements for identifying the user preferences with respect to a DSL system and for configuring a DSL system to satisfy the user preferences without requiring the intervention of a DSL system operator would represent a significant advancement in the art. Also, systems, apparatus, methods and techniques for implementing such user preference assessment and DSL system configuration likewise would represent a significant advancement in the art.

    BRIEF SUMMARY



    [0008] Various aspects and embodiments of the invention are set out in the appended claims.

    [0009] A user of DSL or another party other than an operator can implement user preferences to the extent feasible in light of operational limits and conditions. A DSL system operator (such as a telco CLEC or ILEC) is able to define, limit, set and control the "operational space" of the system, where the "operational space" includes the rules, permitted uses, characteristics, operational parameter ranges, etc. that define how users can use such a system. Thus, in some embodiments, such an operational space is imposed on the user/non-operator

    [0010] One or more controllers can assist in collecting data pertaining to the operational space, user preference data, evaluating the user preference data, operational data and other data and information, and implementing user preferences as feasible. Controllers according to the present invention and/or assisting users in implementing the present invention can include a local controller at the user's location, one or more upstream-end local controllers, one or more remote location controllers, and/or one or more other downstream-end device controllers at locations other than the user's location. Data and information can be shared among the various controllers in some embodiments, either using the DSL system itself or using a proprietary or other alternative data system.

    [0011] User preference data can be obtained from direct communication with one or more users about their preferences or can be learned using indirect means, such as Hidden Markov Models and the like. The user can update this user preference data from time to time to adjust the user's use of the DSL system or the like.

    [0012] Further details and advantages of the invention are provided in the following Detailed Description and the associated Figures.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0013] The present invention will be readily understood by the following detailed description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein like reference numerals designate like structural elements, and in which:

    Figure 1 is a schematic block reference model system per the G.997.1 standard applicable to various DSL and other communication systems in which embodiments of the present invention may be used.

    Figure 2 is a schematic diagram illustrating generic, exemplary DSL deployment showing one or more embodiments of the present invention.

    Figure 3 is a flow diagram of a method according to one embodiment of the present invention.

    Figure 4 is a diagram illustrating a method using clustering according to one embodiment of the present invention.

    Figure 5 controller including a user-preference-based control unit of a non-operator according to one embodiment of the present invention.

    Figure 6 is a block diagram of a typical computer system or integrated circuit system suitable for implementing embodiments of the present invention.


    DETAILED DESCRIPTION



    [0014] The following detailed description will refer to one or more embodiments, but is not limited to such embodiments. Rather, the detailed description is intended only to be illustrative. Those skilled in the art will readily appreciate that the detailed description given herein with respect to the Figures is provided for explanatory purposes.

    [0015] A "DSL system operator" generally is any party that controls, operates and/or owns an access node or the like (for example, a DSLAM, an ONU, an RT, an LT, etc.) in a DSL system, such as those shown in Figures 1 and 2 and others that are well-known to those skilled in the art. A controller, a "smart" modem and/or computer system can be used by a party other than a DSL system operator (for example, a user, a service provider other than a DSL system operator, etc.) to collect and analyze the operational data and/or performance parameter values as described in connection with the various embodiments of the present invention. The controller and/or other components can be a computer-implemented device or combination of devices. In some embodiments, the controller is in a location remote from modems or other communication equipment coupled to a communication line. In other cases, the controller may be collocated with one of or both of the "local" devices (that is, devices directly coupled to a communication line or part of such a local device) such as equipment directly connected to a modem, LT device, DSLAM or other communication system device, thus creating a "smart" modem. In addition, as will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, the controller may be coupled to any other type of data transmission system in which the present invention would be useful. The phrases "coupled to" and "connected to" and the like are used herein to describe a connection between two elements and/or components and are intended to mean coupled either directly together, or indirectly, for example via one or more intervening elements or via a wireless connection, where appropriate. Moreover, references to a "communication system" also are intended, where applicable, to include reference to any other type of data transmission system.

    [0016] Some of the following examples will be used in connection with ADSL and/or VDSL systems as exemplary data transmission systems. Within these DSL systems, certain conventions, rules, protocols, etc. may be used to describe operation of the exemplary DSL system and the information and/or data available from users of and/or equipment coupled to the system.

    [0017] However, as will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, embodiments may be applied to various types of data transmission systems.

    [0018] Various network-management elements are used for management of ADSL and VDSL physical-layer resources, where elements refer to parameters or functions within an ADSL or VDSL modem pair, either collectively or at an individual end. A network-management framework consists of one or more managed nodes, each containing an agent. The managed node could be a router, bridge, switch, modem or other. At least one NMS (Network Management System), which is often called the manager, monitors and controls managed nodes and is usually based on a common PC or other computer. NMS is in some instances also referred to as an Element Management System (EMS). NMS and EMS systems are considered to be parts of Operations Support Systems (OSS). A network management protocol is used by the manager and agents to exchange management information and data. The unit of management information is an object. A collection of related objects is defined as a Management Information Base (MIB).

    [0019] Figure 1 shows the reference model system according to the G.997.1 standard (G.ploam), which applies to various ADSL and VDSL systems, which is well known to those skilled in the art, and in which embodiments of the present invention can be implemented. This model applies to ADSL and VDSL systems meeting the various standards that may or may not include splitters, such as ADSL1 (G.992.1), ADSL-Lite (G.992.2), ADSL2 (G.992.3), ADSL2-Lite (G.992.4), ADSL2+ (G.992.5), VDSL1 (G.993.1) and other G.993.x emerging VDSL standards, as well as the G.991.1 and G.991.2 SHDSL standards, all with and without bonding. These standards, variations thereto, and their use in connection with the G.997.1 standard are all well known to those skilled in the art.

    [0020] The G.997.1 standard specifies the physical layer management for ADSL and VDSL transmission systems based on the clear embedded operation channel (EOC) defined in G.997.1 and use of indicator bits and EOC messages defined in G.99x standards. Moreover, G.997.1 specifies network management elements content for configuration, fault and performance management. In performing these functions, the system utilizes a variety of operational data that are available at and can be collected from an access node (AN). The DSL Forum's TR69 report also lists the MIB and how it might be accessed. In Figure 1, customers' terminal equipment 110 is coupled to a home network 112, which in turn is coupled to a network termination unit (NT) 120. In the case of an ADSL system, NT 120 includes an ATU-R 122 (for example, a modem, also referred to as a transceiver in some cases, defined by one of the ADSL and/or VDSL standards) or any other suitable network termination modem, transceiver or other communication unit. The remote device in a VDSL system would be a VTU-R. As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art and as described herein, each modem interacts with the communication system to which it is connected and may generate operational data as a result of the modem's performance in the communication system.

    [0021] NT 120 also includes a management entity (ME) 124. ME 124 can be any suitable hardware device, such as a microprocessor, microcontroller, or circuit state machine in firmware or hardware, capable of performing as required by any applicable standards and/or other criteria. ME 124 collects and stores performance data in its MIB, which is a database of information maintained by each ME, and which can be accessed via network management protocols such as SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol), an administration protocol used to gather information from a network device to provide to an administrator console/program or via TL1 commands, TL1 being a long-established command language used to program responses and commands between telecommunication network elements.

    [0022] Each ATU-R in a system is coupled to an ATU-C in a CO or other upstream and/or central location. In a VDSL system, each VTU-R in a system is coupled to a VTU-O in a CO or other upstream and/or central location (for example, any line termination device such as an ONU/LT, DSLAM, RT, etc.). In this invention, such VTU-O's (or equivalents) are coordinated in terms of transmission (downstream) and reception (upstream) of all or many of the lines terminating on the termination device. Such coordinated transmission reception constitutes a vectored line-termination device. In Figure 1, ATU-C 142 is located at an access node (AN) 140 in a CO 146. AN 140 may be a DSL system component, such as a DSLAM, ONU/LT, RT or the like, as will be appreciated by those skilled in the art. An ME 144 likewise maintains an MIB of performance data pertaining to ATU-C 142. The AN 140 may be coupled to a broadband network 170 or other network, as will be appreciated by those skilled in the art. ATU-R 122 and ATU-C 142 are coupled together by a loop 130, which in the case of ADSL (and VDSL) typically is a telephone twisted pair that also carries other communication services.

    [0023] Several of the interfaces shown in Figure 1 can be used for determining and collecting operational and/or performance data. To the extent the interfaces in Figure 1 differ from another ADSL and/or VDSL system interface scheme, the systems are well known and the differences are known and apparent to those skilled in the art. The Q-interface 155 provides the interface between the NMS 150 of the operator and ME 144 in AN 140. All the parameters specified in the G.997.1 standard apply at the Q-interface 155. The near-end parameters supported in ME 144 are derived from ATU-C 142, while the far-end parameters from ATU-R 122 can be derived by either of two interfaces over the U-interface. Indicator bits and EOC messages, which are sent using embedded channel 132 and are provided at the PMD layer, can be used to generate the required ATU-R 122 parameters in ME 144. Alternately, the OAM (Operations, Administrations and Management) channel and a suitable protocol can be used to retrieve the parameters from ATU-R 122 when requested by ME 144. Similarly, the far-end parameters from ATU-C 142 can be derived by either of two interfaces over the U-interface. Indicator bits and EOC messages, which are provided at the PMD layer, can be used to generate the required ATU-C 142 parameters in ME 124 of NT 120. Alternately, the OAM channel and a suitable protocol can be used to retrieve the parameters from ATU-C 142 when requested by ME 124.

    [0024] At the U-interface (which is essentially loop 130), there are two management interfaces, one at ATU-C 142 (the U-C interface 157) and one at ATU-R 122 (the U-R interface 158). Interface 157 provides ATU-C near-end parameters for ATU-R 122 to retrieve over the U-interface 130. Similarly, interface 158 provides ATU-R near-end parameters for ATU-C 142 to retrieve over the U-interface 130. The parameters that apply may be dependent upon the transceiver standard being used (for example, G.992.1 or G.992.2).

    [0025] The G.997.1 standard specifies an optional OAM communication channel across the U-interface. If this channel is implemented, ATU-C and ATU-R pairs may use it for transporting physical layer OAM messages. Thus, the transceivers 122, 142 of such a system share various operational and performance data maintained in their respective MIBs.

    [0026] More information can be found regarding ADSL NMSs in DSL Forum Technical Report TR-005, entitled "ADSL Network Element Management" from the ADSL Forum, dated March 1998. Also, DSL Forum Technical Report TR-069, entitled "CPE WAN Management Protocol," dated May 2004. Finally, DSL Forum Technical Report TR-064, entitled "LAN-Side DSL CPE Configuration Specification," dated May 2004. These documents address different situations for CPE side management and the information therein is well known to those skilled in the art. More information about VDSL can be found in the ITU standard G.993.1 (sometimes called "VDSL1") and the emerging ITU standard G.993.2 (sometimes called "VDSL2"), as well as several DSL Forum working texts in progress, all of which are known to those skilled in the art. For example, additional information is available in the DSL Forum's Technical Report TR-057 (Formerly WT-068v5), entitled "VDSL Network Element Management" (February 2003) and Technical Report TR-065, entitled "FS-VDSL EMS to NMS Interface Functional Requirements" (March 2004) as well as in the emerging revision of ITU standard G.997.1 for VDSL1 and VDSL2 MIB elements, or in the ATIS North American Draft Dynamic Spectrum Management Report, NIPP-NAI-2005-031.

    [0027] It is less common for lines sharing the same binder to terminate on the same line card in ADSL, than it is in VDSL. However, the following discussion of DSL systems may be extended to ADSL because common termination of same-binder lines might also be done (especially in a newer DSLAM that handles both ADSL and VDSL). In a typical topology of a DSL plant, in which a number of transceiver pairs are operating and/or available, part of each subscriber loop is collocated with the loops of other users within a multi-pair binder (or bundle). After the pedestal, very close to the Customer Premises Equipment (CPE), the loop takes the form of a drop wire and exits the bundle. Therefore, the subscriber loop traverses two different environments. Part of the loop may be located inside a binder, where the loop is sometimes shielded from external electromagnetic interference, but is subject to crosstalk. After the pedestal, the drop wire is often unaffected by crosstalk when this pair is far from other pairs for most of the drop, but transmission can also be more significantly impaired by electromagnetic interference because the drop wires are unshielded. Many drops have 2 to 8 twisted-pairs within them and in situations of multiple services to a home or bonding (multiplexing and demultiplexing of a single service) of those lines, additional substantial crosstalk can occur between these lines in the drop segment.

    [0028] A generic, exemplary DSL deployment scenario is shown in Figure 2. All the subscriber loops of a total of (L + M) users 291, 292 pass through at least one common binder. Each user is connected to a Central Office (CO) 210, 220 through a dedicated line. However, each subscriber loop may be passing through different environments and mediums. In Figure 2, L customers or users 291 are connected to CO 210 using a combination of optical fiber 213 and twisted copper pairs 217, which is commonly referred to as Fiber to the Cabinet (FTTCab) or Fiber to the Curb. Signals from transceivers 211 in CO 210 have their signals converted by optical line terminal 212 and optical network terminal 215 in CO 210 and optical network unit (ONU) 218. Modems 216 in ONU 218 act as transceivers for signals between the ONU 218 and users 291.

    [0029] Users' lines that co-terminate in locations such as COs 210, 218 and ONU 220 (as well as others) may be operated in a coordinated fashion, such as vectoring. In vectored communication systems (such as vectored ADSL and/or VDSL systems), coordination of signals and processing can be achieved. Downstream vectoring occurs when multiple lines' transmit signals from a DSLAM or LT are co-generated with a common clock and processor. In VDSL systems with such a common clock, the crosstalk between users occurs separately for each tone. Thus each of the downstream tones for many users can be independently generated by a common vector transmitter. Similarly, upstream vectoring occurs when a common clock and processor are used to co-receive multiple lines' signals. In VDSL systems with such a common clock, the crosstalk between users occurs separately for each tone. Thus each of the upstream tones for many users can be independently processed by a common vector receiver.

    [0030] The loops 227 of the remaining M users 292 are copper twisted pairs only, a scenario referred to as Fiber to the Exchange (FTTEx). Whenever possible and economically feasible, FTTCab is preferable to FTTEx, since this reduces the length of the copper part of the subscriber loop, and consequently increases the achievable rates. The existence of FTTCab loops can create problems to FTTEx loops. Moreover, FTTCab is expected to become an increasingly popular topology in the future. This type of topology can lead to substantial crosstalk interference and may mean that the lines of the various users have different data carrying and performance capabilities due to the specific environment in which they operate. The topology can be such that fiber-fed "cabinet" lines and exchange lines can be mixed in the same binder.

    [0031] As can be seen in Figure 2, the lines from CO 220 to users 292 share binder 222, which is not used by the lines between CO 210 and users 291. Moreover, another binder 240 is common to all the lines to/from CO 210 and CO 220 and their respective users 291, 292. In Figure 2, far end crosstalk (FEXT) 282 and near end crosstalk (NEXT) 281 are illustrated as affecting at least two of the lines 227 collocated at CO 220.

    [0032] As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, at least some of the operational data and/or parameters described in these documents can be used in connection with embodiments of the present invention. Moreover, at least some of the system descriptions are likewise applicable to embodiments of the present invention. Various types of operational data and/or information available from a DSL NT modem and/or a DSL NMS can be found therein; others may be known to those skilled in the art. In some cases, common data systems might only collect downstream or upstream data, but not both. In such cases, as will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, proprietary and/or other alternative data systems can be implemented to provide more complete data.

    [0033] It is desirable with some embodiments that the lines within a binder terminate on a single line card (on which a vectored DSL chip or device sits or to which such a device is otherwise coupled). There is no guarantee, however, in normal wiring practice that such single-line-card common-binder termination occurs. If it does, crosstalk can be cancelled/exploited with vectoring. The routing of signals can also occur in electronic distribution frames or backplanes, though they can add cost to the overall system. In this way, the line termination ("LT") of VDSL, typically terminating 48, 96 or 192 lines in a neighborhood or building on one or a few line cards, has a relatively good chance of terminating all the lines from a binder on a line card, especially if the telephone company does some work in wiring to ensure such common-card termination.

    [0034] In a typical communication system, there are numerous tradeoffs among a variety of performance metrics. For instance, data rate and service stability typically are related inversely in a DSL system, where a higher data rate usually increases the probability of service outage and a lower data rate usually reduces the probability of service outage. Operators and service providers typically establish broadly applied rules and implement these rules on all communication links, thus establishing an operational space. A non-operator party collects and analyzes information and/or data from the DSL system to construct a model or profile of the operational space. This constructed operational profile is then used as a reference in evaluating user preference data that is collected from one or more users in the DSL system. This operational profile can include parameter values, parameter ranges, rules applicable to lines and groups of lines (for example, binders), etc.

    [0035] Typically, evaluation and decisions made about implementation of system operational characteristics and parameters is performed by a service provider or operator of the system, such as telecommunications company (that is, a "telco") or the like (all such centralized system controllers will be referred to herein as "operators"). As mentioned above, DSL operators typically control, operate and/or own access nodes in DSL systems. These access nodes can be DSLAMs, RTs, LTs, ONUs and/or any other similar equipment and/or devices.

    [0036] A DSL system operator (such as a telco CLEC or ILEC) is able to define, limit, set and control (referred to generally as "defining") the "operational space" of the system, where the "operational space" includes the rules, permitted uses, characteristics, operational parameter ranges, etc. that define how users can use such a system. Using the present invention, user preference data is obtained by the operator and compared to the operator-defined operational space of a communication system, such as a DSL system, to determine whether one or more of the user preferences can be implemented in the system. Where feasible or allowed, an operator can implement user preferences that are not in conflict with the operator's operation of the DSL system. Stated another way, the operator can implement those user preferences that fit within the operational space defined and maintained by the operator.

    [0037] In embodiments of the present invention, a user (or a party, entity and/or device acting on the user's behalf, such as a controller) can assess the operational profile imposed on the user by an operator and/or service provider. User preference data can then be obtained from a user set (directly and/or indirectly) and compared to the constructed operational profile. The user preference data can come from a user set that comprises a single user or a plurality of users. The comparison of the user preference data and the operational profile can indicate whether one or more user preferences can be implemented within the limitations of the operational profile of the user set. To the extent that one or more user preferences are feasible in light of the operational profile, such wholly or partially feasible user preference(s) can be implemented in the user set's operation.

    [0038] As suggested above, users' preferences and user preference data reflecting those preferences can be found directly (for example, via user calls, email surveys, user feedback, web interface, etc.) or indirectly (for example, based on one or more Hidden Markov Models of user data activity). A user also can store and update preferences in a controller that can make those preferences available to a DSL Manager, for example through any suitable network such as the internet, and (in some embodiments) to other controllers. Where a plurality of controllers are used in a system, these controllers may be coupled to one another in any suitable fashion (for example, via the internet in a distributed fashion or through an intermediate and/or master controller - perhaps a remote controller independent of the user and operator/service provider).

    [0039] Examples herein show implementation of embodiments of the present invention for a DSL system where the tradeoff can be between a first performance metric - for example, higher data rate (with a higher probability of service outage) - and a second performance metric - for example, lower probability of service-outage/modem-retraining (with a lower data rate). Other performance metrics can be invoked and used in embodiments of the present invention. Moreover, more than 2 performance metrics may be utilized in evaluating user preference data and its feasibility and/or compatibility for implementation.

    [0040] In considering the tradeoff between higher data rate and higher service reliability/stability, it is well known that some DSL lines experience degradation caused by a time-varying noise spectrum or by time-varying impulse noise. Such time varying noise directly affects the maximum attainable data rate and/or stability of the lines, where lines experience more unstable service as the noise influence increases. In many situations, this time-varying noise may be other users' crosstalk. Furthermore, when phantom or split-pair circuits are used, some binder capacity can be reallocated on demand to different users as in vectored differential systems, where each line performs as if some of the other lines were not carrying signals anyway. In non-vectored situations, the mutual crosstalk can be a limiting effect in the quality of service and data rates used by any and/or all users.

    [0041] A DSL modem often operates at a fixed data rate established during training. Any subsequent change in rate or some other operational parameter setting requires a retraining of the modem, which causes a short service outage (for example, 20-60 seconds). These outages can cause user dissatisfaction and/or problems. Where service outage prevention is desirable, lower data rates typically help reduce the frequency of such outages. On the other hand, some users might require and/or desire a high data rate due to the nature of their use, despite any service outages. This second type of user might not interactively use the internet much of time, so that an occasional service outage might be acceptable as long as higher data rates are otherwise preserved.

    [0042] Operators may provide an operational profile that allows for variations in the performance characteristics of a user's line (or multiple lines, where a user employs a bonded line set, for example). Operational parameter values and ranges for FEC coding, latency, margin, etc. may permit more than one mode of operation for a user's line(s).

    [0043] Embodiments of the present invention allow users to select operational modes that conform as nearly as possible and/or practical to the users' preferences for performance. For example, users can opt for higher data rates, more stable service, lower latency, less fluctuation in data rate, etc. by providing user preference data (for example, user input or other forms of user preference information like HMM studies). As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, the present invention can be applied to any communication system. For instance, a wireless service user might use embodiments of the present invention to configure individual user link parameters that are used to tradeoff coverage area and the battery life.

    [0044] One or more embodiments of the present invention are illustrated in method 300 of Figure 3. The method 300 of Figure 3 may be performed by a local controller (for example, a controller contained within the local equipment of the user, such as a modem or a personal computer attached to a modem) or by a non-operator's remote controller with which the user can communicate (for example, where a user has purchased a subscription to or has purchased equipment compliant with the remote controller's services). A local controller may have access to information and/or data that is available at the user's location only (for example, from an NT or management entity in a local node) and bases decisions on that type of information and/or data. In other embodiments, a controller may be located in a remote location and have access to multiple users' performance/operational data and preference data. In such a remote location situation, the controller likely would not have the data and information available to a centralized controller in a telco CO or the like, but would nevertheless have better information and/or data than a local controller in a modem or the like.

    [0045] In some embodiments of the present invention, both local and remote controllers can be used. Various combinations of such a system are shown in Figure 2, where there are local controllers 284 coupled to user equipment 292, local controllers coupled to upstream-end equipment (for example, to DSLAMs in a CO 210, 220 or the like), and one or more remote controllers 288 that can be located anywhere and be coupled to local controllers 284 and/or local controllers 280. In such a configuration, a local controller can be responsible for collecting operational data and/or preference data from one or more modems, sending the data to the remote controller, and implementing instructions, control commands, etc. from the remote controller. The local controller can reside in the modem, a PC connected to the modem, or in/as another device attached to the modem. The remote controller receives operational data, preference data, and/or request data from one or more local controllers, analyzes data and other information as needed, and sends proper instructions, control commands, etc. to at least one user's local controller. The remote controller can have the option to collect further information from an operator's systems such as operational data in MIBs, loop makeup records, information on any line profile(s) imposed on the line of interest, DSLAM equipment information, etc. The CO-side modem data can be collected over a proprietary or other alternative link if both the modems are compatible in that fashion with the remote controller. Also, controls could also be implemented over such a link. The data could be extracted from the CO side MIB and sent via an appropriate link to the CPE, which could then forward that information to any other appropriate systems. Further, a control from any of these systems that the CO would need to implement could also be fed over such a link. The user's local controller 284 also could act as a link between an upstream-end local controller 280 and a remote controller 288, as needed. These and other variations in system configuration will be appreciated by those skilled in the art after reviewing the present disclosure.

    [0046] One or both of the local controller and remote controller might be able to communicate with or influence the DSLAM (and/or any other upstream device or upstream-end controller).

    [0047] As an example, both the user modem and DSLAM might be from a common manufacturer that has implemented a proprietary or other alternative communication path between the two. In such a case, a local/remote controller of this invention might be able to collect data from the DSLAM and implement control signals at the DSLAM via the user modem or the local controller.

    [0048] In Figure 3 the non-operator obtains at 305 a model of the operational space imposed by a DSL system operator. Obtaining such a model may include constructing a model from collected data and/or data available from a database or the like, testing and scanning to attempt to learn about the operational space, having information provided by the operator, etc. Based on this model, the non-operator can determine at 310 an operational relationship between a first user preference and a second user preference (for example, a first performance metric and a second performance metric). This may involve collecting and analyzing operational data about a user's performance. In one embodiment, the controller of a user or other non-operator can evaluate the relationship between data rate and service stability, for example by determining whether the user's line set has highly time-variant noise or impulse noise. The controller identifies and generates reasonable options that are applicable to the user's line or line set. At 320 preference data is obtained from one or more users. The user preference data can include direct user information (for example, from direct input from the user) or indirect user information (for example, from an HMM, cluster evaluation or the like, which in this case might be at a remote controller/server that talks to the local equipment). To obtain direct user information, the controller can "correspond" with the user and identify the user's preferences or otherwise assess the user's behavior and likely preferences based on HMM models, user activity, etc. A direct user survey can involve a controller posing a set of questions such as the following (or these can be inferred from service history automatically, without querying the user directly, with answers to the use of various services questions below being derived as a function of their recorded frequency of occurrence):

    -- Do you frequently download files for long periods?

    -- Do you use voice over IP, network gaming programs, or any other latency sensitive programs?

    -- Do you prefer higher data rate or more stable service?



    [0049] Satisfaction feedback questions such as following can also be included and the user feedback reflected in the analysis:

    -- Are you satisfied with current data rate?

    -- Are you satisfied with stability of your internet connection?



    [0050] Survey questions also can use ratings or other numerical input data to permit quantification of the user's preferences in analyzing the user preference data later. Direct user correspondence between a controller and a user can be done via phone calls (in case a user has called a user service center for a service subscription, for example), email survey, web interface, etc. In case email or web interface is used, the data can be automatically processed and provided to the controller. As described in more detail below, user preference characteristics also can be inferred by observation of line statistics over time.

    [0051] The user preference data is analyzed at 330 to determine whether there are operational configurations (for example, user operational parameter vector values, where the user operational parameter vector con contain one or more parameters) that allow user implementation of preferences while still operating within the limits of the modeled operational space provided by the operator/service provider. When user preference data can be implemented within existing system operation rules and operating parameters of the operational space model, then at 340 the controller or other non-operator can implement one or more of the user's operational parameters to implement the user preferences (for example, with regard to the first and second performance metrics). The controller can configure the user's line(s) properly so that the user preferences are in effect until they either are inconsistent with the operator's mandated operational profile or until the user set updates the user preference data, for example by returning to 320 to provide updated user preference data.

    [0052] Where the operational space and/or operational relationship(s) between preferences (for example, the first performance metric and the second performance metric) evolve or otherwise change (for example, due to time variations in the user's line set performance or other conditions), then method 300 might return to 305 or 310 to reconstruct/reevaluate that relationship prior to obtaining more user preference data. For example, a family may have multiple users whose preferences differ. One family member may want to watch streaming video, requiring a high data rate with minimum service interruptions, while another wants to play network video games (a lower data rate is satisfactory, so long as latency and service interruptions are kept to a minimum). Embodiments of the present invention can allow each individual user of the line set to select the operational mode that best suits their personal use. Each user of a given CPE location might even have their own profile (for example, "Dad's profile") to which that user can switch when using the communication service.

    [0053] In another embodiment, determining the operational configurations that allow user implementation of preferences while still operating within the limits of the operational profile provided by the operator/service provider involves the following steps at 330. Using the known limits of the operational profile, the allowed values for one or more configurable operational parameters are identified. The selection of any of these values will allow operation of the DSL system within the constraints of the operational profile provided by the operator/service provider. The set of these allowed values represents the optimization space for selecting a value that will meet the requirements imposed by user preference. After accounting for the user preference data, the set of allowed values is further restricted to only those values that will result in system operation that meets both the user preference and the operator rules. Finally, the value of the configurable operational parameter(s) is selected (from values within the restricted set) such that the DSL system achieves a target performance level or the like (for example, high performance). User implementation of preferences thus is achieved within the limits of the operational profile.

    [0054] In some embodiments, the controller might change the rules used for line set configuration rather than directly changing the line configuration itself. As noted above, some data collection, analysis, HMM construction, configuration, etc. can be performed by a remote location controller, if desired, and be available to local controllers/servers and other remote controllers/servers if they elect to use such data. Moreover, one or more of these methodologies can be implemented in software and/or other computer program products, as will be appreciated by those skilled in the art.

    [0055] In general, Hidden Markov Models (HMMs) are stochastic signal models that use definable parameters to model complex behaviors. HMMs use a number of internal or hidden states and a defined state sequence described by state transition probabilities to model complex behaviors. The systems use outputs that are distinct from the internal states. The output, called an observable symbol, can be a scalar value representing a single input and/or input type to the HMM, or a vector quantity representing multiple inputs and/or input types. The observable symbols are used to model the HMM, as well as to generate probabilities that represent how well the HMM matches the measured data.

    [0056] More specifically, a given system (such as a communication system) typically has number of internal states that are not directly observable. HMMs implemented according to embodiments of the present disclosure assist in determining, among other things, the current state, the next state to which the system might transition, and the probability that the system is in a given state when one or more observable symbols of the system are known. Mathematically, an HMM can be described as follows:

    N : the number of hidden states.

    M : the number of observable scalar or vector symbols.

    A : the state-transition probability matrix of state j moving to state i in the next time period, where aij = Pr(nt+1 = i|nt = j), 1 ≤ i, jN, and where t is the time period index and nt is the state number during time period t.

    B : the observation probability distribution vector of observing symbol k while the state is j where Bj(k) = Pr(ot = k|nt = j), 1 ≤ kM, 1 ≤ jN and ot is the observed symbol during time period t.

    π : the initial state distribution, πj = Pr(n1 = j), 1 ≤ jN.

    λ : the entire HMM model λ = (A, B, π).



    [0057] Note that one of the M symbols is observed in each time period, but the state needs to be estimated based on the observation because it is not directly observable.

    [0058] One or more HMMs can be used to estimate one or more user preference data. This data might represent states such as how often a given communication line is in use and what kind of use is being made of the line (for example, VoIP and other high demand uses). In some cases, each state may be a performance metric (for example, user satisfaction with service stability), while the output relied upon may be a single operating or performance parameter value or distribution, or an operating or performance condition (for example, customer complaints), or a combination of parameters and/or performance characteristics.

    [0059] An HMM can be selected on the basis of information available from the user and/or information (if any) available from the communication system. In the case of DSL systems, there are a number of parameters and/or data available from a system MIB and/or other components of the system, as noted above and below in this disclosure. Moreover, a controller/server outside of the service provider such as a remote location controller/server and/or local controllers at each user can collect other operational data from the system via other means, as discussed in more detail herein.

    [0060] Embodiments of the present disclosure use an HMM to assist in estimating the preferences of the user under consideration. Various examples of embodiments of the present invention are presented herein in connection with DSL systems. However, as will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, the invention applies more generally to any communication system in which the methods, apparatus and other embodiments of the present invention can be applied.

    [0061] In some embodiments of this invention, a methodology used to identify the user preferences can be viewed as being related to the algorithm area variously known as "non-supervised learning" or "clustering" or "vector quantization" (though none of these fields has been applied in a manner similar to that used in connection with embodiments of the present invention).

    [0062] The following steps may be taken:
    1. a) Observed data from a DSL link of a user with unknown user preferences are formatted into a vector x (for example, ATM cell counts, current data rate, CV violations, FEC corrections, etc.);
    2. b) Vector x is classified into one of several clusters based on a minimum distance criterion;
    3. c) Other DSL links of users with known user preferences belonging to the selected cluster are examined to estimate the user preferences for the DSL link of the user with unknown user preferences (for example, user preferences may indicate traffic loads, traffic type, etc.).


    [0063] In some embodiments, clustering methods include separate methods for training and separate methods for the classification described above. Generic training methods related to clustering are well known to those skilled in the art (though they have not been applied to the types of situations addressed by embodiments of the present invention). An example illustrating one or more methods according to the present invention follows. Let x be the vector of observed data of the DSL link and let yi, i=1,...,C be vectors associated with C clusters, where each cluster corresponds to a distinct user preference. The following steps are performed:
    1. i. Initialize vectors yi, i=1,...,C.
    2. ii. Perform one or more iterations to obtain new model vectors yi, i=1,...,C based on a training set of data.
    3. iii. Compute the total distortion for the training set of data.
    4. iv. If the total distortion is smaller than some threshold, then exit; otherwise, go to step ii.


    [0064] Steps ii and iii are now described in more detail.

    [0065] For step ii:
    1. a) For each vector x belonging to the training set, find the cluster/model i for which d(x, yi) ≤ d(x, yj) for any j other than i.
    2. b) For each cluster, recompute yi as the mean of all vectors x of the training set that also belong to cluster/model i. "Mean" is defined here to be any appropriate averaging operation, as will be appreciated by those skilled in the art.


    [0066] For step iii:
    1. a) Compute total distortion as D = average[d(x, yi)|d(x, yi) ≤ d(x, yj), ji]. In other words, it is the average distance of each vector of the training set of data from the closest yi vector.
    2. b) By using the above classification stage methodology, vector x of observed data can be classified into one of C clusters, where each cluster is related to one or more specific loop characteristics (for example, a specific HMM).


    [0067] Figure 4 illustrates one embodiment of the present invention implementing the previous example and using clusters for the case of 4 clusters. Each cross 411, 412, 413, 414 corresponds to a vector yi. The classification of DSL lines into clusters also is shown, where DSL lines classified into the same cluster are shown as squares 421, circles 422, stars 423 and triangles 424 bounded by the lines 430. DSL lines in the same cluster correspond to users that have the same or similar preferences. In these types of systems, user preference data from the DSL system can be collected determining a set of clusters corresponding to distinct user preferences. The cluster set can contain as many clusters (or cluster points) as needed to sufficiently categorized the user preferences. Operational data from the DSL system can then be collected after which a given user can be assigned to a specific cluster based on the collected operational data. The user preference data then i based on the assignment of the user to the assigned cluster.

    [0068] In some embodiments of the present invention, preference data can be obtained from data that may be stored in a user's computer, network equipment, DSL modem or the like. Such data may include network statistics (for example, ATM cell counts, packet counts, packet delay metrics, etc.), application information (for example, video decoder, entertainment system, VoIP phone, etc.) and other data that may be used to extract information about user preference.

    [0069] The evaluation of whether a line and/or system should be configured, maintained or altered and/or any other evaluation of operational data may be required to be based on the most recently available operational data pertaining to the operational condition or may be based on historical data as well as the current data. For example, if a noise source (for example, an appliance or other device) that has caused performance problems in the past is removed (for example, thrown away by a resident), its prior influence on the structure of an HMM and/or implementation of rules pertaining to noise from the source should be removed or at least reduced. Therefore, if historical data is used, it may be weighted in any suitable manner. For example, a data weighting vector (W) can be given to each line and/or operational condition so that the weighting of current and historical data can be applied as a function of how current the data is. For instance, if the weighting vector is W1 = [1 1 1], then the data from the last three update periods (for example, days) are given equal weight in evaluating compliance. If the weighting vector is W2 = [1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.5], then the data from the last reported operational condition data is used with weighting 1 and data from 7 update periods earlier (for example, one week ago) is used with weighting 0.5. Data from other update periods are ignored. If it is desired to use data from only the last 2 months with equal weighting, then the weighting vector can be of size 60 with all ones (that is, W3 = [1 1 1 ... 1 1 1]), using an update period of one day. Different weighting vectors can be used for different operational conditions, for example depending on whether a single reading should serve as the basis for any decision and/or change to an HMM.

    [0070] In addition to the timeliness of the operational data considered, the evaluation of whether any decision should be made and/or action taken, and/or any other evaluation of operational data, may be required to be based on a sufficient quantity of available operational data. For example, in some cases, the data collection system might malfunction or be inactive, meaning that too little or no data might be available. In such cases, it might be helpful for the system to abstain from making any changes to a system and/or line operation, or any limits and/or parameters applicable thereto, when there is insufficient data on which to base reliable evaluation. To prevent an inappropriate change from being implemented, implementation of a change can be limited only to those cases when sufficient additional data has been collected since the last evaluation or within a specified time period. Operational data may be viewed using cardinality techniques and data probability distributions. Sophisticated distribution estimation might be used to reduce the influence of distant past values in favor of more recently collected data and are well understood by those skilled in the art. If a data sufficiency or timeliness rule is not satisfied, then no action may be taken until new data is collected that allows such a rule to be met.

    [0071] Several examples likewise illustrate embodiments of the present disclosure.

    Example 1



    [0072] In this example, the user, perhaps with assistance of a remote location controller/server, may discern that other users in the same binder have use patterns that complement the subject user's own use patterns and thus a reallocation of used bandwidth may be desirable. A local controller could then lower data rates or increase them in time synchronization with other users so that the subject user's line has maximum use among all users. Such local control might occur on a peer-to-peer basis among the local controllers or possibly with the assistance (and enablement for subscription purposes) of a coordinating controller or center. In addition, the user's modem might assist the user's local controller and/or a remote controller in obtaining information, data and/or controls from an upstream-end device and/or controller to assist in evaluating and/or implementing the user's preferences. In such an exemplary implementation, a user-controlled system might be much faster in implementing preference changes as compared to an operator-controlled system. For example, an operator-controlled system might require at least several hours to implement preference changes.

    Example 2



    [0073] The user preference may include preference towards using the DSL service with specific applications that are characterized by known traffic types. Knowledge of user preference may thus be exploited to tune configurable parameters of network protocols such as TCP, UDP, RTP. Such tuning would aim to improve transmission for the traffic types most often associated with the user. Network protocol statistics such as packet loss, throughput, buffer sizes can also be combined with knowledge of user preference to configure DSL physical layer parameters such as latency settings and impulse noise protection.

    [0074] According to one embodiment of the present invention shown in Figure 5, a preference-based control unit 400 may be part of an independent entity coupled to a DSL or other communication system, such as a controller 410 (for example, a device functioning in a user's local equipment or a remote location controller as described above) assisting one or more users of the system. A remote controller not located in a CO, telco, etc. may also be referred to as a dynamic spectrum manager, Dynamic Spectrum Management Center, Preference Implementation Center, User Assistance Center, DSM Center, Spectrum Maintenance Center, SMC or any other similar name and be part of a service suite offered to users by subscription or via the purchase of equipment compliant with the controller's services. In some embodiments, the controller 410 may be a completely independent entity. In other embodiments, the controller 410 can be part of the user's equipment, as seen in Figure 5. As seen from the dashed line 446 in Figure 5, the controller 410 may be housed in a modem or the like. Moreover, controller 410 may be coupled to and/or controlling DSL and/or other communication lines of multiple users.

    [0075] The preference-based control unit 400 includes a data collection unit 420 identified as a collecting means and an analysis unit 440 identified as analyzing means. As seen in Figure 5, the collecting means 420 (which can be a computer, processor, IC, computer module, etc. of the type generally known) may be coupled to ME 124 at NT 120, to an NT modem 122, or more generally to an NT 120, any or all of which may be part of a DSL system for example. Where the controller 410 is implemented at a user's location, the controller 410 may be a computer such as a home PC or the like running software or other computer program products that control and assist with communications. In such case, the collecting means 420 may be coupled to the home network 112. Data also may be collected through a broadband network 170 (for example, via the TCP/IP protocol or other protocol or means outside the normal internal data communication within a given DSL system).

    [0076] One or more of these connections allows the preference-based control unit 400 to collect operational data from the user's line and, if appropriate, elsewhere (possibly the broader system). Data may be collected once or over time. In some cases, the collecting means 420 will collect on a periodic basis, though it also can collect data on-demand or any other non-periodic basis (for example, when a DSLAM or other component sends data to the preference-based control unit), thus allowing the preference-based control unit 400 to update its information, operation, etc., if desired. Data collected by means 420 is provided to the analyzing means 440 (which also can be a computer, processor, IC, computer module, etc. of the type generally known) for analysis and any decision regarding user preferences concerning one or more performance metrics performance metrics, the construction and/or modification of one or more HMMs to be used in estimating user preferences, defining operational parameters that will permit implementation of user-preferred performance metrics to the extent possible, etc. in the communication system.

    [0077] In the exemplary system of Figure 5, the analyzing means 440 is coupled to a signal generating means 450 in the controller 410. This signal generator 450 (which can be a computer, processor, IC, computer module, etc.) is configured to generate and send instruction signals to the user's modem and/or other components of the user's link to the communication system. These instructions may include instructions regarding data rates, transmit power levels, coding and latency requirements, retraining scheduling and implementation, system configuration instructions, requests for user preference data and/or other data, etc. Instructions may be generated after the controller 410 determines whether one or more user preferences can be implemented on a user's line set coupled to the controller 410. In some embodiments, a link could pass information and controls to be implemented completely outside the influence of an operator. This may be the result of capabilities inherently available in the equipment being used or may be due to a subscription to such service that a user may obtain.

    [0078] Embodiments of the present invention can utilize a database, library or other collection of data pertaining to data collected (including user preference data and other types of data), previously constructed HMMs, etc. This collection of reference data may be stored, for example, as a library 448 in the controller 410 of Figure 5 and used by the analyzing means 440 and/or collecting means 420.

    [0079] In some embodiments of the present invention, the preference-based control unit 400 may be implemented in one or more computers such as PCs, workstations or the like and/or in one or more computer program products. The collecting means 420 and analyzing means 440 may be software modules, hardware modules or a combination of both, as will be appreciated by those skilled in the art. When working with a large numbers of modems, lines, users, etc., databases may be introduced and used to manage the volume of data collected.

    [0080] Generally, embodiments of the present invention employ various processes involving data stored in or transferred through one or more computer systems, which may be a single computer, multiple computers and/or a combination of computers (any and all of which may be referred to interchangeably herein as a "computer" and/or a "computer system"). Embodiments of the present invention also relate to a hardware device or other apparatus for performing these operations. This apparatus may be specially constructed for the required purposes, or it may be a general-purpose computer and/or computer system selectively activated or reconfigured by a computer program and/or data structure stored in a computer. The processes presented herein are not inherently related to any particular computer or other apparatus. In particular, various general-purpose machines may be used with programs written in accordance with the teachings herein, or it may be more convenient to construct a more specialized apparatus to perform the required method steps. A particular structure for a variety of these machines will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art based on the description given below.

    [0081] Embodiments of the present invention as described above employ various process steps involving data stored in computer systems. These steps are those requiring physical manipulation of physical quantities. Usually, though not necessarily, these quantities take the form of electrical or magnetic signals capable of being stored, transferred, combined, compared and otherwise manipulated. It is sometimes convenient, principally for reasons of common usage, to refer to these signals as bits, bitstreams, data signals, control signals, values, elements, variables, characters, data structures or the like. It should be remembered, however, that all of these and similar terms are to be associated with the appropriate physical quantities and are merely convenient labels applied to these quantities.

    [0082] Further, the manipulations performed are often referred to in terms such as identifying, fitting or comparing. In any of the operations described herein that form part of the present invention these operations are machine operations. Useful machines for performing the operations of embodiments of the present invention include general purpose digital computers or other similar devices. In all cases, there should be borne in mind the distinction between the method of operations in operating a computer and the method of computation itself. Embodiments of the present invention relate to method steps for operating a computer in processing electrical or other physical signals to generate other desired physical signals.

    [0083] Embodiments of the present invention also relate to an apparatus for performing these operations. This apparatus may be specially constructed for the required purposes, or it may be a general purpose computer selectively activated or reconfigured by a computer program stored in the computer. The processes presented herein are not inherently related to any particular computer or other apparatus. In particular, various general purpose machines may be used with programs written in accordance with the teachings herein, or it may be more convenient to construct a more specialized apparatus to perform the required method steps. The required structure for a variety of these machines will appear from the description given above.

    [0084] In addition, embodiments of the present invention further relate to computer readable media that include program instructions for performing various computer-implemented operations. The media and program instructions may be those specially designed and constructed for the purposes of the present invention, or they may be of the kind well known and available to those having skill in the computer software arts. Examples of computer-readable media include, but are not limited to, magnetic media such as hard disks, floppy disks, and magnetic tape; optical media such as CD-ROM disks; magneto-optical media such as floptical disks; and hardware devices that are specially configured to store and perform program instructions, such as read-only memory devices (ROM) and random access memory (RAM). Examples of program instructions include both machine code, such as produced by a compiler, and files containing higher level code that may be executed by the computer using an interpreter.

    [0085] Figure 5 illustrates a typical computer system that can be used by a user and/or controller in accordance with one or more embodiments of the present invention. The computer system 500 includes any number of processors 502 (also referred to as central processing units, or CPUs) that are coupled to storage devices including primary storage 506 (typically a random access memory, or RAM), primary storage 504 (typically a read only memory, or ROM). As is well known in the art, primary storage 504 acts to transfer data and instructions uni-directionally to the CPU and primary storage 506 is used typically to transfer data and instructions in a bi-directional manner. Both of these primary storage devices may include any suitable of the computer-readable media described above. A mass storage device 508 also is coupled bi-directionally to CPU 502 and provides additional data storage capacity and may include any of the computer-readable media described above. The mass storage device 508 may be used to store programs, data and the like and is typically a secondary storage medium such as a hard disk that is slower than primary storage. It will be appreciated that the information retained within the mass storage device 508, may, in appropriate cases, be incorporated in standard fashion as part of primary storage 506 as virtual memory. A specific mass storage device such as a CD-ROM 514 may also pass data uni-directionally to the CPU.

    [0086] CPU 502 also is coupled to an interface 510 that includes one or more input/output devices such as such as video monitors, track balls, mice, keyboards, microphones, touch-sensitive displays, transducer card readers, magnetic or paper tape readers, tablets, styluses, voice or handwriting recognizers, or other well-known input devices such as, of course, other computers. Finally, CPU 502 optionally may be coupled to a computer or telecommunications network using a network connection as shown generally at 512. With such a network connection, it is contemplated that the CPU might receive information from the network, or might output information to the network in the course of performing the above-described method steps. The above-described devices and materials will be familiar to those of skill in the computer hardware and software arts. The hardware elements described above may define multiple software modules for performing the operations of this invention. For example, instructions for running a codeword composition controller may be stored on mass storage device 508 or 514 and executed on CPU 502 in conjunction with primary memory 506. In a preferred embodiment, the controller is divided into software submodules.

    [0087] The many features and advantages of the present invention are apparent from the written description, and thus, the appended claims are intended to cover all such features and advantages of the invention.


    Claims

    1. A system, for a wireless communication system of an operator, comprising:
    a non-operator controller (410) being part of an independent entity distinct from the operator and coupled with the wireless communication system of the operator, wherein an operational space includes the rules, permitted uses, characteristics, and operational parameter ranges that define how users can use the wireless communication system, the non-operator controller (410) comprising:

    a preference based control unit (400) comprising a collecting means (420) and an analyzing means (440), wherein the preference based control unit (400) is configured to:

    i) collect information and/or data from the wireless communication system, including operational data for a user's communication line, using the collecting means (420),

    ii) collect user preference data for a user of the user's communication line using the collecting means (420), and

    iii) analyze the collected information and/or data to construct a model or profile of the operational space and the collected user preference data using the analyzing means (440) to determine the extent to which one or more user preferences reflected in the collected user preference data can be implemented in light of the constructed model or profile of the operational space; and

    a signal generating means (450) to generate and send instruction signals to the managed node, or other components of the user's link to the wireless communication system, to implement one or more of the user's preferences on the user's communication line.


     
    2. The system of claim 1, wherein the non-operator controller (410) is one of:

    part of the user's equipment; or

    a completely independent entity which is not located in a central office or a telco having control of the wireless communication system.


     
    3. The system of claim 1 or 2 wherein the operational space is defined by the operator and wherein the operational space is imposed on the non-operator controller (410).
     
    4. The system of claim 1, wherein the non-operator controller (410) is part of a service suite offered to users by subscription or via the purchase of user equipment compliant with the controller's services.
     
    5. The system of claim 1, wherein the preference based control unit (400) is further configured to:

    determine a set of clusters corresponding to distinct user preferences;

    assign the user to a first cluster based on the collected operational data; and

    generate the user preference data based on the assignment of the user to the first cluster.


     
    6. The system of claim 1, wherein the preference based control unit (400) is further configured to:

    restrict a set of allowed values in compliance with operational limits of the operator after accounting for the user preference data; and

    select a value of the configurable operational parameters from the restricted set of allowed values such that the wireless communication system achieves a target performance level via implementation of the user's preferences within the operational limits of the operator.


     
    7. The system of any preceding claim, wherein the user's link to the communication system can pass information and controls to be implemented without requiring the intervention of the operator.
     
    8. The system of any preceding claim wherein the operational space that defines how users can use the communication system comprises one or more of FEC coding, latency, margin, fluctuation in data rate.
     
    9. The system of any preceding claim wherein the collected information and/or data from the communication system comprises one or more of packet loss, throughput, buffer sizes.
     
    10. A method (300) for a wireless communication system of an operator for operating a non-operator controller (410) being part of an independent entity distinct from the operator and coupled with the wireless communication system of the operator, wherein an operational space includes the rules, permitted uses, characteristics, and operational parameter ranges that define how users can use the communication system, the method comprising:

    i) collecting (305) information and/or data from the wireless communication system, including operational data for a user's communication line, using a collecting means (420) of the non-operator controller;

    ii) collecting (320) user preference data for a user of the user's communication line using the
    collecting means (420);

    iii) analyzing (330) the collected information and/or data to construct a model or profile of the operational space and the collected user preference data using an analyzing means (440) to determine the extent to which one or more user preferences reflected in the collected user preference data can be implemented in light of the constructed model or profile of the operational space; and

    a signal generating means (450) generating and sending (340) instruction signals to the user's managed node, or other components of the user's link to the wireless communication, system to implement one or more of the user's preferences on the user's communication line.
     
    11. The method (300) of claim 10, wherein the operational space that defines how users can use the wireless communication system is defined by the operator and further comprising:
    imposing the operational space on the non-operator controller (410).
     
    12. The method (300) of claim 10 or 11, further comprising:

    determining a set of clusters corresponding to distinct user preferences;

    assigning the user to a first cluster based on the collected operational data; and

    generating the user preference data based on the assignment of the user to the first cluster.


     
    13. The method (300) of any of claims 10 to 12, further comprising:

    restricting a set of allowed values in compliance with operational limits of the operator after accounting for the user preference data; and

    selecting a value of the configurable operational parameters from the restricted set of allowed values such that the wireless communication system achieves a target performance level via implementation of the user's preferences within the operational limits of the operator.


     
    14. The method (300) of any of claims 10 to 13 and further comprising:
    passing information and controls to be implemented without requiring the intervention of the operator over the user's link to the wireless communication system.
     
    15. A computer program product comprising a computer readable medium having computer program instructions stored thereupon and executable to carry out the method of any one of claims 10 to 14.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. System für ein drahtloses Kommunikationssystem eines Betreibers, umfassend
    eine Nicht-Betreiber-Steuerungseinrichtung (410), welche Teil einer unabhängigen Gesamtheit ist, welche von dem Betreiber verschieden ist, und welche mit dem drahtlosen Kommunikationssystem des Betreibers gekoppelt ist, wobei ein Betriebsraum die Regeln, die zugelassenen Benutzungen, die Charakteristiken und die Betriebsparameterbereiche umfasst, welche definieren, wie Benutzer das drahtlose Kommunikationssystem verwenden können, wobei die Nicht-Betreiber-Steuerungseinrichtung (410) umfasst:

    eine präferenzbasierte Steuerungseinheit (400), welche ein Sammlungsmittel (420) und ein Analysemittel (440) umfasst, wobei die präferenzbasierte Steuerungseinheit (400) eingerichtet ist zum:

    i) Sammeln von Informationen und/oder Daten von dem drahtlosen Kommunikationssystem, welche Betriebsdaten für eine Kommunikationsleitung eines Benutzers umfassen, unter Verwendung des Sammlungsmittels (420),

    ii) Sammeln von Benutzerpräferenz-Daten für einen Benutzer der Kommunikationsleitung eines Benutzers unter Verwendung des Sammlungsmittels (420), und

    iii) Analysieren der gesammelten Informationen und/oder Daten, um ein Modell oder ein Profil des Betriebsraums und der gesammelten Benutzerpräferenz-Daten unter Verwendung des Analysemittels (440) zu konstruieren, um das Ausmaß zu bestimmen, in welchem eine oder mehrere Benutzerpräferenzen, welche in den gesammelten Benutzerpräferenz-Daten reflektiert sind, in Anbetracht des konstruierten Modells oder Profils des Betriebsraums implementiert werden können; und

    ein Signalerzeugungsmittel (450), um Anweisungssignale zu erzeugen und an den verwalteten Knoten oder andere Komponenten der Verbindung eines Benutzers mit dem drahtlosen Kommunikationssystem zu senden, um eine oder mehrere der Präferenzen eines Benutzers an der Kommunikationsleitung eines Benutzers zu implementieren.


     
    2. System nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Nicht-Betreiber-Steuerungseinrichtung (410) eines ist aus:

    einem Teil der Ausrüstung eines Benutzers; oder

    einer vollständig unabhängigen Gesamtheit, welche nicht in einer Zentrale oder einem Telekommunikationsunternehmen angeordnet ist, welche/welches die Steuerung des drahtlosen Kommunikationssystems aufweist.


     
    3. System nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, wobei der Betriebsraum durch den Betreiber definiert ist und wobei der Betriebsraum der Nicht-Betreiber-Steuerungseinrichtung (410) auferlegt ist.
     
    4. System nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Nicht-Betreiber-Steuerungseinrichtung (410) Teil einer Service-Suite ist, welche den Benutzern durch ein Abonnement oder durch den Verkauf einer Benutzerausrüstung angeboten wird, welche mit den Services der Steuerungseinrichtung kompatibel sind.
     
    5. System nach Anspruch 1, wobei die präferenzbasierte-Steuerungseinheit (400) ferner eingerichtet ist zum:

    Bestimmen eines Satzes von Clustern, welche individuellen Benutzerpräferenzen entsprechen;

    Zuordnen des Benutzers zu einem ersten Cluster basierend auf den gesammelten Betriebsdaten; und

    Erzeugen der Benutzerpräferenz-Daten basierend auf der Zuordnung des Benutzers zu dem ersten Cluster.


     
    6. System nach Anspruch 1, wobei die präferenzbasierte Steuerungseinheit (400) ferner eingerichtet ist zum:

    Beschränken eines Satzes erlaubter Werte in Einklang mit Betriebsgrenzen des Betreibers nach einem Berücksichtigen der Benutzerpräferenz-Daten; und

    Auswählen eines Werts der konfigurierbaren Betriebsparameter von dem beschränkten Satz erlaubter Werte derart, dass das drahtlose Kommunikationssystem über eine Implementierung der Präferenzen eines Benutzers innerhalb der Betriebsgrenzen des Betreibers ein Zielleistungsniveau erreicht.


     
    7. System nach einem vorhergehenden Anspruch, wobei die Verbindung eines Benutzers Informationen und zu implementierende Steuerungen an das Kommunikationssystem weiterleiten kann, ohne die Intervention des Betreibers zu erfordern.
     
    8. System nach einem vorhergehenden Anspruch, wobei der Betriebsraum, welcher definiert, wie Benutzer das Kommunikationssystem verwenden können, eines oder mehrere einer FEC-Kodierung, einer Latenz, einer Spanne, einer Fluktuation in einer Datenrate umfasst.
     
    9. System nach einem vorhergehenden Anspruch, wobei die gesammelten Informationen und/oder Daten von dem Kommunikationssystem eines oder mehrere umfasst aus einem Paketverlust, einem Durchsatz, Puffergrößen.
     
    10. Verfahren (300) für ein drahtloses Kommunikationssystem eines Betreibers, zum Betreiben einer Nicht-Betreiber-Steuerungseinrichtung (410), welche Teil einer unabhängigen Gesamtheit ist, welche von dem Betreiber verschieden ist, und welche mit dem drahtlosen Kommunikationssystem des Betreibers gekoppelt ist, wobei ein Betriebsraum die Regeln, die zugelassenen Benutzungen, die Charakteristiken und die Betriebsparameterbereiche umfasst, welche definieren, wie Benutzer das Kommunikationssystem verwenden können, wobei das Verfahren umfasst:

    i) Sammeln (305) von Informationen und/oder Daten von dem drahtlosen Kommunikationssystem, welche Betriebsdaten für eine Kommunikationsleitung eines Benutzers umfassen, unter Verwendung eines Sammlungsmittels (420) der Nicht-Betreiber-Steuerungseinrichtung;

    ii) Sammeln (320) von Benutzerpräferenz-Daten für einen Benutzer der Kommunikationsleitung eines Benutzers unter Verwendung des Sammlungsmittels (420),

    iii) Analysieren (330) der gesammelten Informationen und/oder Daten, um ein Modell oder ein Profil des Betriebsraums und der gesammelten Benutzerpräferenz-Daten unter Verwendung eines Analysemittels (440) zu konstruieren, um das Ausmaß zu bestimmen, in welchem eine oder mehrere Benutzerpräferenzen, welche in den gesammelten Benutzerpräferenz-Daten reflektiert sind, in Anbetracht des konstruierten Modells oder Profils des Betriebsraums implementiert werden können; und

    wobei ein Signalerzeugungsmittel (450) Anweisungssignale erzeugt und an den verwalteten Knoten oder andere Komponenten der Verbindung eines Benutzers mit dem drahtlosen Kommunikationssystem sendet, um eine oder mehrere der Präferenzen eines Benutzers an der Kommunikationsleitung eines Benutzers zu implementieren.
     
    11. Verfahren (300) nach Anspruch 10, wobei der Betriebsraum, welcher definiert, wie Benutzer das drahtlose Kommunikationssystem verwenden können, durch den Betreiber definiert wird und ferner umfassend:
    Auferlegen des Betriebsraums auf die Nicht-Betreiber Steuerungseinrichtung (410).
     
    12. Verfahren (300) nach Anspruch 10 oder 11, ferner umfassend:

    Bestimmen eines Satzes von Clustern, welche individuellen Benutzerpräferenzen entsprechen;

    Zuordnen des Benutzers zu einem ersten Cluster basierend auf den gesammelten Betriebsdaten; und

    Erzeugen der Benutzerpräferenz-Daten basierend auf der Zuordnung des Benutzers zu dem ersten Cluster.


     
    13. Verfahren (300) nach einem der Ansprüche 10 bis 12, ferner umfassend:

    Beschränken eines Satzes erlaubter Werte in Einklang mit Betriebsgrenzen des Betreibers nach einem Berücksichtigen der Benutzerpräferenz-Daten; und

    Auswählen eines Werts der konfigurierbaren Betriebsparameter von dem beschränkten Satz erlaubter Werte derart, dass das drahtlose Kommunikationssystem über eine Implementierung der Präferenzen eines Benutzers innerhalb der Betriebsgrenzen des Betreibers ein Zielleistungsniveau erreicht.


     
    14. Verfahren (300) nach einem der Ansprüche 10 bis 13 und ferner umfassend:
    Weiterleiten von Informationen und zu implementierender Steuerungen über die Verbindung eines Benutzers mit dem drahtlosen Steuerungssystem, ohne die Intervention des Betreibers zu erfordern.
     
    15. Computerprogramm-Produkt, umfassend ein computerlesbares Medium, welches Computerprogramm-Anweisungen aufweist, welche darauf gespeichert und ausführbar sind, um das Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 10 bis 14 durchzuführen.
     


    Revendications

    1. Système, pour un système de communication sans fil d'un opérateur, comprenant :

    un dispositif de commande sans opérateur (410) faisant partie d'une entité indépendante distincte de l'opérateur et couplé au système de communication sans fil de l'opérateur, où un espace opérationnel comporte les règles, les utilisations autorisées, les caractéristiques et les plages de paramètres opérationnels qui définissent la manière dont des utilisateurs peuvent utiliser le système de communication sans fil, le dispositif de commande sans opérateur (410) comprenant :
    une unité de commande à base de préférences (400) comprenant un moyen de collecte (420) et un moyen d'analyse (440), où l'unité de commande à base de préférences (400) est configurée pour :

    i) collecter des informations et/ou des données du système de communication sans fil, incluant des données opérationnelles pour une ligne de communication de l'utilisateur, en utilisant le moyen de collecte (420),

    ii) collecter des données de préférences de l'utilisateur pour un utilisateur de la ligne de communication de l'utilisateur en utilisant le moyen de collecte (420), et

    iii) analyser les informations et/ou les données collectées pour construire un modèle ou un profil de l'espace opérationnel et les données de préférences de l'utilisateur collectées en utilisant le moyen d'analyse (440) pour déterminer dans quelle mesure une ou plusieurs préférences de l'utilisateur reflétées dans les données de préférences de l'utilisateur collectées peuvent être mises en œuvre à la lumière du modèle ou du profil construit de l'espace opérationnel ; et

    un moyen de génération de signal (450) pour générer et envoyer des signaux d'instruction au nœud géré, ou à d'autres composants de la liaison de l'utilisateur avec le système de communication sans fil, pour mettre en œuvre une ou plusieurs des préférences de l'utilisateur sur la ligne de communication de l'utilisateur.


     
    2. Système de la revendication 1, dans lequel le dispositif de commande sans opérateur (410) est l'une parmi :

    une partie de l'équipement de l'utilisateur ; ou

    une entité complètement indépendante qui n'est pas située dans un central téléphonique ou une compagnie téléphonique ayant la commande du système de communication sans fil.


     
    3. Système de la revendication 1 ou 2, dans lequel l'espace opérationnel est défini par l'opérateur et dans lequel l'espace opérationnel est imposé au dispositif de commande sans opérateur (410).
     
    4. Système de la revendication 1, dans lequel le dispositif de commande sans opérateur (410) fait partie d'une suite de services offerte aux utilisateurs par abonnement ou via l'achat d'équipement utilisateur conforme aux services du dispositif de commande.
     
    5. Système de la revendication 1, dans lequel l'unité de commande à base de préférences (400) est en outre configurée pour :

    déterminer un ensemble de grappes correspondant à des préférences distinctes de l'utilisateur ;

    affecter l'utilisateur à une première grappe sur la base des données opérationnelles collectées ; et

    générer les données de préférences de l'utilisateur sur la base de l'affectation de l'utilisateur à la première grappe.


     
    6. Système de la revendication 1, dans lequel l'unité de commande à base de préférences (400) est en outre configurée pour :

    limiter un ensemble de valeurs autorisées conformément aux limites opérationnelles de l'opérateur après prise en compte des données de préférences de l'utilisateur ; et

    sélectionner une valeur des paramètres opérationnels configurables à partir de l'ensemble limité de valeurs autorisées de sorte que le système de communication sans fil atteigne un niveau de performance cible via la mise en œuvre des préférences de l'utilisateur dans les limites opérationnelles de l'opérateur.


     
    7. Système de l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel la liaison de l'utilisateur avec le système de communication peut transmettre des informations et des commandes à mettre en œuvre sans nécessiter l'intervention de l'opérateur.
     
    8. Système de l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel l'espace opérationnel qui définit la manière dont des utilisateurs peuvent utiliser le système de communication comprend un ou plusieurs parmi le codage FEC, la latence, la marge, la fluctuation du débit de données.
     
    9. Système de l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel les informations et/ou les données collectées du système de communication comprennent un ou plusieurs parmi la perte de paquets, le débit, les tailles de mémoire tampon.
     
    10. Procédé (300) pour un système de communication sans fil d'un opérateur pour faire fonctionner un dispositif de commande sans opérateur (410) faisant partie d'une entité indépendante distincte de l'opérateur et couplé au système de communication sans fil de l'opérateur, où un espace opérationnel comporte les règles, les utilisations autorisées, les caractéristiques et les plages de paramètres opérationnels qui définissent la manière dont des utilisateurs peuvent utiliser le système de communication, le procédé comprenant les étapes consistant à :

    i) collecter (305) des informations et/ou des données du système de communication sans fil, comportant des données opérationnelles pour une ligne de communication de l'utilisateur, en utilisant un moyen de collecte (420) du dispositif de commande sans opérateur ;

    ii) collecter (320) des données de préférences de l'utilisateur pour un utilisateur de la ligne de communication de l'utilisateur en utilisant le moyen de collecte (420) ;

    iii) analyser (330) les informations et/ou les données collectées pour construire un modèle ou un profil de l'espace opérationnel et les données de préférences de l'utilisateur collectées en utilisant un moyen d'analyse (440) pour déterminer dans quelle mesure une ou plusieurs préférences de l'utilisateur reflétées dans les données de préférences de l'utilisateur collectées peuvent être mises en œuvre à la lumière du modèle ou du profil construit de l'espace opérationnel ; et

    générer et envoyer (340), par un moyen de génération de signal (450), des signaux d'instruction au nœud géré de l'utilisateur, ou à d'autres composants de la liaison de l'utilisateur avec le système de communication sans fil pour mettre en œuvre une ou plusieurs des préférences de l'utilisateur sur la ligne de communication de l'utilisateur.
     
    11. Procédé (300) de la revendication 10, dans lequel l'espace opérationnel qui définit la manière dont des utilisateurs peuvent utiliser le système de communication sans fil est défini par l'opérateur et comprenant en outre :
    le fait d'imposer l'espace opérationnel au dispositif de commande sans opérateur (410).
     
    12. Procédé (300) de la revendication 10 ou 11, comprenant en outre les étapes consistant à :

    déterminer un ensemble de grappes correspondant à des préférences distinctes de l'utilisateur ;

    affecter l'utilisateur à une première grappe sur la base des données opérationnelles collectées ; et

    générer les données de préférences de l'utilisateur sur la base de l'affectation de l'utilisateur à la première grappe.


     
    13. Procédé (300) de l'une des revendications 10 à 12, comprenant en outre les étapes consistant à :

    limiter un ensemble de valeurs autorisées conformément aux limites opérationnelles de l'opérateur après prise en compte des données de préférences de l'utilisateur ; et

    sélectionner une valeur des paramètres opérationnels configurables à partir de l'ensemble limité de valeurs autorisées de sorte que le système de communication sans fil atteigne un niveau de performance cible via la mise en œuvre des préférences de l'utilisateur dans les limites opérationnelles de l'opérateur.


     
    14. Procédé (300) de l'une des revendications 10 à 13 et comprenant en outre l'étape consistant à :
    transmettre des informations et des commandes à mettre en œuvre sans nécessiter l'intervention de l'opérateur sur la liaison de l'utilisateur avec le système de communication sans fil.
     
    15. Produit de programme informatique comprenant un support lisible par ordinateur ayant des instructions de programme informatique stockées sur celui-ci et pouvant être exécutées pour effectuer le procédé de l'une quelconque des revendications 10 à 14.
     




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    Cited references

    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description




    Non-patent literature cited in the description