US 5867562 Call processing system with call screening
ABSTRACT -A system is described in which call processing considers unique information about the call to better serve the caller and/or to enable the called party to more efficiently handle the call. In one embodiment, the unique information considered by the call processor is information indicator digits, which may indicate to the called party whether to accept the call before the voice portion of the call is initiated.
BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
For many years the telephone system in general has known certain information about the phone from which a call has been made. For example, the telephone system has known what area code the call was placed from, the long distance carrier of the phone call, and even the approximate geographic location for a non-mobile phone based on the first six digits of the caller’s number. This geographic information comes from the Local Exchange Routing Guide of Bell Core (LERG). However, in reality, the extent of information that has been collected to date about a calling party by the telephone system is quite low. For example, consider a home in which two or more people reside. If a call is placed from that home there is no way of knowing, as the call is handled by the telephone system, who is making the call. The only thing the telephone system may know is the approximate geographic location of a non-mobile phone and the calling number. The call may even have been placed by a visitor to the home.
The examples of lack of knowledge about the calling party quickly expand when one considers phone calls originating from institutions (for example, hotels, hospitals, airports, offices, prisons, universities, etc.). Then consider mobile phones, Personal Communication System (PCS) Service, air phones, maritime phones, and cellular phones, and it soon becomes apparent how little information is really known about a calling party. A public phone (such as a pay phone) in a lobby of an institution, provides little if any information about the calling party especially if the calling party is paying cash for the call.
Businesses have attempted to learn more about a calling party by asking questions of the calling party when their call is received. For example, a rental car company receives a call from a person wanting to rent a car. A live attendant for the rental car company will collect information about the call by asking several questions. Consider that the caller is likely to have rented a car previously from the same company. There should be no need to have to re-ask all of the same questions every time the same caller wants to rent a car. The present invention provides a solution to this and related problems of telecommunications.
The telephone system has evolved to include limited standard identification information about the calling phone (calling number and/or ANI) and the phone that was called (dialed number and/or DNIS). This information is primarily obtained from the telephone number from which the phone call was placed and the telephone number that was dialed by the caller. The telephone system has recognized these two numbers as basic information sources (for routing calls and for billing purposes for example) and has developed a system of standards for the data character fields these numbers are to fill.
The following background information will better explain these standards of limited phone identification used today by the current call processing systems, Interactive Voice Response Systems (IVR), and telephone systems of the United States and foreign countries.
Automatic Number Identification (ANI): ANI is a basic element of telephone calls transported throughout the public and private telephone networks. For the North America Numbering Plan (NANP), ANI is currently 10 digits long. ANI is used extensively for call routing, call billing, call tracking, and call identification.
Call routing has been based on ANI: area code routing based on the calling phone number is a common feature found in most long distance telephone networks. Based on the calling party number (ANI), the call can be routed and/or receive special treatment through use of databases, computer processors attached to and/or available to the telephone switches, the phone network, and equipment. Some Interexchange Carriers (IXC’s) (such as AT&T, MCI, Sprint, etc.) and Local Exchange Companies (LEC’s) (such as Ameritech) provide many enhanced forms of call routing usually based on the first 3 or more ANI digits.
Call routing based on the first 3 ANI digits is usually referred to as Area Code Routing. For example, if the calling number ANI was 614-847-6161, then Area Code Routing would consider the “614” part of the ANI and route the Ohio originated call using the “614” as the broad geographic data element to start the routing routines and calculations, based on the routing rules and other factors (time of day, day of week, percent allocation, etc.).
Call Routing based on more than the first 3 ANI digits allows for more geographic precision. Most ANI’s have a geographic relationship. LERG gives the approximate longitude and latitude for the area code/exchange (as well as other data contained in the LERG) represented by the first 6 digits of the ANI. For example, for the calling number 614-847-6161 the “614-847” component has the geographic representation of Ohio and the metropolitan area of North Columbus/Worthington.
Area-Code-Exchange (NPA-NXX): The Area-Code-Exchange (NPA-NXX) routing ability gives even greater routing definition for the calling party (ANI). If a caller to an 800number with an ANI of “614-847-6161” was in need of being connected to a towing service, then the geographically closest towing service might be identified to handle the towing job (at a shorter travel time and possible lower cost). Call routing can be based on the first 6 ANI digits or more. In fact, call routing can be extended to the first 7, 8, 9, or 10 digits and can even focus on a single calling telephone number. For example, calls originating from “614-847-6161” could be assigned to a specific travel department within a company. The caller with that ANI could be routed by the telephone network to a certain group that always handles that caller when he dials the local, 800, 500, or other number of a travel agency which routes calls using ANI. In this case, a specific ANI or set of ANI’s is given a defined routing algorithm, or treatment, when recognized by a controlling network to route the call based on ANI or a group of ANI’s.
ANI used as a billing number and geographic representation: ANI (as a term) is used, quite often interchangeably, for both the call originating billing number and/or the line number for the originating end of a call. For a location that has only one telephone line and one number (such as a residence with only one line), ANI usually refers to both the calling line and the billing number.
For a multi-line location (such as a business or residence with 2 or more lines), a PBX (Private Branch Exchange, a location’s switch), or Centrex (where the local telephone company’s switch or a separate switch acts as a PBX), the billing number or the lead number may be presented by the public telephone network as the ANI for the actual line used to place the call. For example, for a multi-line location such as a business, the public telephone network may present all the out-bound calls with the same ANI as the billing ANI even though multiple lines are in use, each with their own assigned line ANI and most of which are different than the billing ANI. The billing ANI is usually a good geographic representation of the non-mobile caller and usually represents the responsible (billing) party for the call (or one of them). However, in some cases, the billing ANI may not represent the actual ANI (or line number) of the call. In other cases, the billing ANI may not be presented and the line number ANI is presented instead. In any case, the line ANI or billing ANI do not define 100% of the time who is calling or why they are calling.
ANI is not always a good geographic representation: for example, when a call is routed through a private network before it reaches the “Public Telephone Network”, the ANI may have no relationship with the physical location or approximate identity of the caller. If the caller at one location calls through a tie line or on a “Private Network” to another location and then access the Public Network from the second location, the call will probably be identified by an ANI based on the point at which the call entered the Public Telephone Network of the second location. For example, if a caller in Columbus, Ohio accesses a switch in New York City through a private network and then accesses dial tone to reach the Public Telephone Network through the New York City switch, the ANI for the call will most likely be a New York City ANI and the bill will be based on the New York City ANI (distance, identification, location, bill to, etc.)
Billing based on ANI: the caller’s ANI (billing number and/or line number) is directly used for billing of calls dialed to:
900 access code type calls (e.g., 1-900-WEATHER);
500 access code type calls (e.g., 1-500 personal communications which currently can be billed to the caller);
10XXX access code type calls (e.g., 10288 where the caller dials an access code to reach a carrier and then dials a number);
1+ long distance number type calls per the caller’s prescribed carrier; and
411, 1-555-1212 and many other access codes, methods and applications.
The caller’s ANI is indirectly (and sometimes directly) used as part of the billing equation for calls where the Dialed Number pays for the call:
1-500 (depending on features);
1-700 (depending on features);
1-800(e.g., 1-800-SCHERER); and
other access methods, codes and applications where the ANI is used, but the caller is not billed for the call (1-800-COLLECT, 1-800-CALL ATT, etc.).
For 1-800access code calls, the caller’s originating ANI is used to control some of the billing decisions–for example:
origination from a different country or island (e.g., calls from Canada);
time zones; and
mileage between calling parties and mileage bands.
1-800access service was introduced by AT&T around 1967. From that time on, the caller’s originating ANI became an integral part of the billing, routing, and call detail. 1-900, 411, and other pay-per-call numbers have also been around for 15 or more years and use the caller’s originating ANI for part of the billing and routing equation.
Call tracking: ANI, along with Dialed Number including date and time, may be used as an approximation to track calls. However, if two callers dial from a PBX with a common billing ANI at the same time to the same multi-line location and both callers hang up at the same time, 2 call records will be created that look the same (even though there were 2 calls). Caller ANI, even with Dialed Number, date, time, and duration, do not provide exclusive call tracking, nor specific information about who was calling.
Presentation of network data and/or switch data: most advanced PBX’s, ACDs (Automated Call Distributors), network transferring features (such as AT&T’s Transfer Connect), PBX call transferring, and other forms of call switching and call transferring–preserve and transfer the caller’s ANI (if possible) in the transfer of a call. This is done to preserve this piece of network provided data to the next call location, in an attempt to better serve the caller, and to help identify the caller for billing purposes. ANI preservation and passing has been a feature of Computer-Technology Integration to manage calls.
Caller ID (ANI): one of the most widespread and well-known uses of the caller’s ANI is Caller ID (Caller Identification). The concept of Caller ID is to pass on to the recipient of the call the ANI of the caller before the call is answered. ANI has been a key component of ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) defined by the CCITT in the 1970’s. The caller’s ANI has traveled the phone network since the 1970’s, if not earlier, in the form of two products:
1) 1-800Access Type Service; and
2) Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN Service).
Many companies, businesses, and individuals use ISDN, digital access, and/or Caller ID to get certain data elements of the call–one of which is caller ANI. Despite the benefits of ANI, caller ANI does not define the actual calling person. It does not indicate why the caller is calling.
The ANI of the caller is preserved and passed on as the call passes through the Public Telephone Network (and usually the Private Telephone Network, if possible). For example, the caller ANI may traverse through the LEC, IXC, CAP (Competitive Access Provider), PBX, ACD, Agent and so forth, so the final recipient receives the caller’s ANI (i.e., caller ID).
Dialed Number: Dialed Number is the number that the caller dialed. Dialed Number, like ANI, must comply with the North America Numbering Plan (NANP) and the CCITT International Standards if the call is to originate and use the public switched telephone network of the U.S.A., Canada, North American (NANP) and international locations.
______________________________________847-6161 7 digit dialing within the Local Access and Transport Area (LATA) where the area code is assumed to be the same as the local area code (i.e.: 614). With multiple area codes for the same LATA coming into existence, 7 digit dialing will be phased out in some areas to 10 digit dialing.809-776-8500 These are examples of 10 digit dialing geographic614-847-6161 numbers. The 809-776 indicates a phone number in St. Thomas, a U.S. Virgin Island.1-800-356-6161 These are all examples of non-geographic routing1-900-932-8437 numbers where the carrier and/or telephone network1-500-422-7537 that has handled the call checks a database for the1-700-328-5000 designated termination and associated routing.911 These are examples of local special purpose Dialed411 Numbers that again have specific routing and"0" geographic assumptions.011-44 International Dialed Numbers that start with011-72 international access, country code, and then the number (city, line, etc.) in the designated country.______________________________________
For North America and the countries (including the U.S.A.) which are using the NANP, the public switched telephone network requires the Dialed Number to conform to the NANP. The Dialed Number is passed on to each successive party of the transport of the call (LEC-IXC-LEC-PBX-ACD-etc.) so the call can go through the telephone network ultimately being routed to the intended destination and for call accounting purposes.
Dialed Number and DNIS: the Dialed Number Identification Service (DNIS) is a shortened presentation form representing the Dialed Number. When the incoming call is terminated on digital access (and other forms of special access), the transport provider will usually offer DNIS to help identify what number was dialed for an incoming call, to the target telephone equipment and location. If the Dialed Number was, for example, 1-800-356-6161, then 6161 may be sent with the call presentation to reflect the 10 digit number dialed to give special treatment, routing, and information for the incoming call. The DNIS assigned could be from 1 to 10 digits or more (but usually not more than 10) and does not have to be the same as, or part of, the Dialed Number. In the above example, for the 800number 1-800-356-6161, the DNIS could be, for example, “100” or “2” or the number itself.
Uses of DNIS: a common use of DNIS, besides representing the Dialed Number, is to aid in routing the calls within the telephone equipment so multiple different Dialed Numbers can share a common access trunk group and a common routing and still receive selective routing and unique audiotext greetings and selective handling. For example, within a business one 1-800 number may route to sales while a different 1-800 number for the same company routes to customer service, but calls to both numbers share the same or parts of the same trunk group to improve network access, switch and telephone equipment utilization.
Geographic Dialed Numbers: for the traditional geographic Dialed Numbers, such as 411, 911, 614-847-6161, the public switched network will attempt to deliver the call to a primary location, and if the local phone company and/or the IXC offers advanced features (Call Forward on Busy, Call Forwarding, Call Forward on Ring No Answer, and other possible static and dynamic delivery options), the call can have special “pre-designated routings” that are mostly static in nature.
Non-geographic Dialed Number: for non-geographic Dialed Numbers, such as 1-800, 1-900, 1-500 (PCS Follow Me), Cellular, and other non-geographic Dialed Numbers, the routing is controlled by the local access provider (LEC) accessing local databases to hand the call to the appropriate IXC (interexchange carrier) for providing inter-LATA (and intra-LATA) services and network routing. It utilizes the traditional public telephone network supplied ANI plus Dialed Number(s) as key data elements.
Network data and/or switch data: in both cases (geographic and non-geographic Dialed Numbers), the telephone network currently uses the public network supplied ANI and/or Dialed Number to determine call routing and special call treatment. Both the ANI and Dialed Numbers are fixed or static in nature, and are located in pre-designated fields of the actual call data. The USA Network and Many International Telephone Networks Support CCS7 Signaling.
Network data and/or switch data flows over a separate signaling network: a CCS7 (Common Channel Signaling 7) network consists of nodes called Signaling Points (SP’s). Unique point codes for each network SP serve as the address for message distribution. A typical CCS7 network (as referenced in FIG. 7 herein), has three key nodes:
a Service Switching Point (SSP) capability at a central office provides CCS7 trunk signaling and/or queries a database to determine call routing;
Service Control Point (SCP) houses a database with the routing information used by network SSPs; and
a Signaling Transfer Point (STP) provides routing capabilities for CCS7 messages between CCS7 nodes.
The North American network is based on the basic “Mesh” structure. This structure is sometimes referred to as the “Quad” structure.
The hub of the network is STP pairs. These are two separate STP nodes operating together in a logical arrangement for redundancy.
The Signaling Links can be categorized into several types depending on the functions being performed. However, regardless of the function being performed, all Signaling Links operate in the same manner and have the same technical requirements.
A-Links (Access Links) are used to allow SSPs, SCPs and SPs to connect STP nodes. B-Links (Bridge Links) are used to join mated STP pairs to other mated STP pairs. These Links form the Quad structure, which will provide complete STP redundancy.
C-Links (Cross Links) are used to interconnect two STP nodes, in order to create an STP pair.
D-Links (Diagonal Links) interconnect primary and secondary Signal Transfer Point pairs. They provide communication between pairs and serve as an alternate routing path. A two level hierarchy is an extension of the basic mesh structure.
Some networks, typically those with high levels of sub-network traffic volume, may require another level of STP pairs. This Primary level of the STP architecture would also be a convenient place to bridge signaling boundaries (i.e. from one operating region to another). Most CCS7 nodes will be connected to the network at Secondary level STP pairs, except SCPs may be connected at the Primary level.
D-Links (Diagonal Links) are used to form connections between Secondary level mated STP pairs and Primary level mated STP pairs. This forms a Quad structure as well.
The CCS7, SS7, ISDN networks have predefined fields that contain:
1) The Dialed Number;
2) The Calling Number; and
3) Enhanced Data About the Call.
This network call data travels through the signaling network and represents the call and is presented to the call processor as the IAM (Initial Address Message) that defines the in-bound call to the call processor as part of ISDN, SS7 and CCS7 messages.
Private networks (on-net): “On Net”, a Private Virtual Network term, represents a dialing plan that may or may not conform to the public switched network. AT&T in about 1985 introduced its Software Defined Network (“SDN”). MCI offers Virtual Private Network (“VPN”) and others offer private dialing plans (e.g., switch to switch) that may not conform to the public network. These private telephone networks are under computer control with access to databases so as to receive calls over dedicated and special access lines or trunks and may use unique “Dialed Numbers” that may look like public Dialed Numbers. The private numbers are translated and routed differently (or can be routed the same) as the public network. For example, dialing 1-614-847-6161 on a private telephone network could ring to a phone in New York City (or anywhere) instead of the expected geographic location of the Columbus area in Ohio.
New network data and/or switch data elements-II digits: Information Indicator Digits, (also referred to as “II digits” “info-indicator digits”, info-indicator (II) digits, and/or ANI Information Digit Codes) Bellcore Local Exchange Routing Guide, Dec. 1, 1995, Section 1, Page 168 (1.8 Automatic Number Identification (ANI) Information Digits Codes) are two-digit codes which precede the 7 or 10 digit number of the calling line (ANI) and inform the users of Network Information, the local LEC, Interexchange Carriers and others about the “type of line” that is originating the call, any special characteristics of the billing number (ANI) and/or certain classes of services. The two-digit II digit codes are part of the signaling protocol generated in equal access offices, which represents approximately 99% of all public U.S.A. calls by January 1996 (calls that originate by accessing a local phone company access line such as 1-800 type calls for the U.S.A.) (See FIG. 8). The II digits provided information about the ANI to aid in special routing and billing decisions regarding the ANI for those parties that may handle the call. II digits are designed to help define the “type” of line the ANI represents that is placing the call.
II digits are assigned by the NANP Administrator, at Bell Communications Research, Inc.(Bellcore) based on the telephone industry’s needs to classify types of call origination for specific applications and needs. Some of the key II digits codes (00-99) are as follows:
Code 00–Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS)–non-coin service (not a pay phone), no special treatment required, (an unrestricted line).
Code 01–Multiparty Line (more than 2) the ANI does not really reflect the calling arty, the party will need to be queried to determine the real calling number (ANI).
Code 02–ANI failure, the calling station has not been identified, the calling party will need to be queried to determine the real calling number (ANI).
Code 06–The call is coming from a multi-station location such as a hotel or motel and the IAM does not include the room number or account number of the caller, just the hotel/motel’s ANI.
Code 07–Special Operator Handling Required–Calls from “07” require further operator screening to check to see if the call is allowed.
Code 20–When a call originates from a PBX and the main billing number is being sent as the ANI instead of the individual line number, II digit code 20 is sent with the ANI.
Code 23–Gateway type calls, where the ANI being sent does not represent the real calling line number, such as:
non-equal access end offices
0-800(data base access)
Type 1 cellular calls (identifies the cellular system–not the caller)
calls from PBX trunks
calls from Centrex tie lines
Code 27–Coin or pay phone.
Code 29–Prison/inmate service–a confinement/detention facility; where calls must be screened for outward calling use and only collect billing is allowed. (ANI of caller can not be billed).
Code 30–Unassigned calling ANI.
Code 31–ANI that has been manually placed in trouble-busy state by Telco personnel.
Code 34–Telephone operator handled call, the call has been handled by an operator prior to reaching the called party. (For example: caller could not get through, required operator assistance).
Code 52–Outwats calls limited to certain zone(s) or band(s) on a special billing arrangement.
Code 60–The call is a TRS call that came from an unrestricted line and the ANI represents the billing line.
Code 61–Cellular/wireless PCS (Type 1)–The ANI represents the system, not the mobile directory (Caller’s number) placing the call.
Code 62–Cellular/wireless PCS (Type 2)–The ANI does represent the caller’s number (mobile directory number) placing the call, but the ANI does not represent the true geographic location of the caller (the caller is in their home zone (extended)).
Code 63–Cellular/wireless PCS (roaming)–The ANI identifies the mobile directory number (Calling Number) but not the geographic location (since the Caller is roaming).
Code 66–Call originated from a hotel/motel through use of a TRS provider.
Code 67–Call originated through use of a TRS provider and the ANI is restricted (such as a pay phone).
Code 70–ANI is that of a private pay station (coin and/or coinless), for example Public Access Line (PAL), Customer Owned Coin Operated Pay Telephone (COCOT), etc.
Code 93–Call originated (ANI) from a Virtual Network type of service (such as an IXC Calling Card), no real knowledge on the ANI.
As it can readily be seen, the II digits provide a wealth of knowledge about the calling line before, during, and after the call is answered. The II code of “00” represents an unrestricted home or small business (no PBX); while “29” represents a prison/inmate facility; while “27” is a coin/pay phone; etc.
The II digits are presented with the other network data and/or switch data through use of ISDN and/or SS7 signaling and/or can be provided as part of the inband data stream where available.
Database data about ANI, provided by the LERG: “NPA-NXX Type”–LERG reports on how and where the first 6 digits of the 10 digit North American Numbering Plan will be used and how it will be assigned by Bell Core. For example:
614-847-XXXX Represents Plain Old Telephone Service and/or business line with a geographic location of Columbus, Ohio.
614-755-XXXX Represents a pager exchange assigned to the Columbus, Ohio area (ignoring roaming).
614-361-XXXX Represents a cellular phone exchange assigned to the Columbus area (ignoring roaming).
The first 6 digits of the 10 digit NANP is usually referred to as an exchange, of which there are tens of thousands that have been assigned and/or issued by Bellcore as part of the NANP. Each exchange is also assigned a category or “NPA-NXX Type” such that all 10,000 numbers of the exchange have the same type usage. In the pager example:
614-755-XXXX Represents an exchange or NPA-NXX (614-755) such that all 10,000 numbers having this prefix have been assigned for use as pagers.
The number ranges (614-755-0000 through 614-755-9999) or all 10,000 numbers arc reserved for paging. If the exchange 614-755 is checked in the LERG “NXX Type” the value of “02” will be found “fully dedicated to paging”.
Some more important examples of the “NXX Type” as defined by the LERG for entire exchanges are:
NXX-Type Code 00–Regular (Plain Old Telephone Service) POTS
NXX-Type Code 01–Mobile (Improved Mobile Telephone Service) IMTS
NXX-Type Code 02–Fully dedicated to paging
NXX-Type Code 04–Fully dedicated to cellular
NXX-Type Code 06–Maritime (Ship to shore, ship to ship)
NXX-Type Code 07–Air to ground
NXX-Type Code 10–Called party pays
NXX-Type Code 14–Special calling cards
NXX-Type Code 16–Originating only (can not receive calls)
NXX-Type Code 64–Personal Communications Services (PCS)
NXX-Type Code 88–Toll station–ring down
Many of the codes not listed above (but all are included in the attached LERG reference) are related to special mobile, paging and cellular and LATA limitations.
Given the first 6 digits of the calling number (ANI), and with the “NPA-NXX Type” classification provided by the LERG reference, the basic phone classification can quickly be determined, for example:
07=Air to ground
04=Dedicated to cellular
Sometimes the Dialed Number is all that is needed as the unique key to information: in Columbus, Ohio, since about 1985 the city trash collection has divided the city into 5 colors. When you move into a residence in Columbus, Ohio, you learn your trash color. Each trash color has a unique phone number to call to learn when your color’s trash will be picked up. Because of snow, cold days (below zero), and holidays, the status of trash pickup changes daily. For a GOLD coded trash customer to find out the current status, they call 614-645-GOLD, and the PINK coded customers call 614-645-PINK, etc. The city of Columbus uses the dialed number to deliver current status of trash pickup, to the 5 subsets of the City’s residences. (614-645-RUBY, PINK, GOLD, GRAY, NAVY).
LEC database about ANI on-line (LIDB): all of the local phone companies participate in a U.S.A. and Canadian database called LIDB (Line Information Database). LIDB represents virtually all phones in the U.S.A. and Canada for the reasons listed below. LIDB is really a collection of large LEC’s (such as GTE), regional Bell operating companies (such as NYNEX) and a few centralized databases (such as ITN, etc.) who represent large groups of small phone companies. Companies such as Card-Tel provide coordinated access to these sub-sets of LIDB that provide a uniform access method and a uniform response back from the LIDB databases. The maximum response time to a LIDB inquiry is usually less than 1.0 seconds, and this inquiry is based on the “ANI” of the Caller and/or can also be the Dialed Number if the Dialed Number is also a POTS’ (Plain Old Telephone Service) number.
A new feature of Caller ID in the December, 1995 time frame is the Caller’s name as it would appear on the phone bill. The Caller’s name along with the Caller’s phone number (calling from number–ANI) is presented to the called number as part of Caller ID. The Caller’s name is now available (on a national schedule) as a new feature of LIDB for all POTS lines and other lines (business, hotel, motel, residential, unlisted, pay phone, etc.) for all of the U.S.A. and Canada.
The Caller’s name is available, even if the Caller’s line (ANI) is unlisted or unpublished through the use of LIDB. Whether the Caller’s name can be given out for display on a phone involves intrastate and interstate privacy laws and codes.
In many cases, ANI must be checked to restrict services: the ANI of the Caller also determines the Local Exchange Company (LEC) assigned to the ANI. Currently, exchanges are assigned to a LEC, usually in whole blocks, such that for the 10,000 number exchange 614-847-XXXX, all 10,000 numbers (614-847-0000 to 614-847-9999) are assigned to Ohio Bell of Ameritech for assignment to customers, routing to the end phone and/or device (phone, pager, PCS, etc.) and billing to the customer for usage changes (1+ calling, international calling, 411 calling, 1-900 calling, etc.).
To provide enhanced and/or standard local and long distance phone service, the ANI must be a billable ANI. Some normal ways of checking for a billable ANI are:
1) Based on LIDB, is the ANI valid?
2) Based on LIDB, is the ANI billable for the phone service (for example, will the ANI accept a collect call)? The call processor and/or switch and/or SCP must access several more types of databases:
a) Does the enhanced service provider (IXC) have a billing and collection agreement with this LEC for this ANI? This would come from a database maintained by the enhanced service provider, third party, IXC, etc.
b) Most business, as well as all pay phones have their “ANI” marked as “no collect calls”. This is why an operator or an automated collect service (such as 1-800-collect) will tell you that the number you are calling will not accept “collect calls”. The collect call service (automated or live operator) will check the actual LEC database (usually through the use of LIDB) and will receive an automated response code back that the “ANI” in question will not accept “collect calls”.
c) Has the ANI, LEC calling card, other Bill-to number (credit card), other billing or account number, or grouping of account numbers (household, etc.) exceeded a service provider’s velocity threshold for a time period (“X” dollars in “Y” time)?
d) Based on customer preference, prior customer service with a customer, and advanced features with a customer, a customer will not want to pay for this type of service for this time period (for example: no collect calls between midnight and 6:00 A.M.).
e) LIDB may also be used to validate a LEC calling card. LIDB provides on-line access to the calling card a LEC assigns to a POTS number. When you are away from your phone–you can bill calls to your (home) phone through use of your LEC calling card number. One of the means for validating this calling card number is through the on-line use of LIDB. For example: at a pay phone, if you wish to bill a phone call to your LEC calling card, the calling card you would enter at the pay phone would usually be validated through LIDB.
Future use of LIDB–one of the planned possible future uses of LIDB is who is “your local LEC”. With the possibility of local number portability, LIDB could be used to determine who the local LEC is, to then determine who to route the call to for the last mile so the phone will ring.
ANI and Dialed Number part of billing: the billing and reporting function of telephone calls (such as MCI’s “Friends and Family”) revolve around databases, restrictions, rates, and relationships of data ($ dollars spent in a time period such as AT&T’s “True Rewards”). Billing databases, usage, access, and restrictions have been part of the phone network since before the AT&T break up in 1984.
Prior Knowledge: prior knowledge is provided by ANI, for example, as it:
a) Relates to billing and/or usage:
i) Call velocity–the past number of calls over different periods of time (current day, week, month, 45 days, year, etc.):
ii) Dollars billed and billing velocity–the amount of billing transactions and dollars billed by the biller and/or service provider, bureau over different periods of time to be used to control credit decisions;
iii) Customer service and satisfaction–services the customer will not pay for or has a tendency to refund and/or the party who is assigned the ANI or billing identifier wants blocked.
b) As it relates to prior calls and/or selections:
i) Score or level attained in a program, event, promotion, or several programs;
ii) Level of proficiency or approximate knowledge attained based on ANI, Caller Identifier, or real identity (for example–based on Social Security Number).
c) As a method to control entry into the particular program or restrict entry based on prior usage identity and performance.
The present invention brings certain telephone network data and/or switch data into the field of call processing in unique ways to provide a new call processing system and reveals several methods of using such data to better serve callers and to provide entities who rely on callers for business a better means in which to handle those callers. The present invention recognizes deficiencies in the use of calling/billing line number (ANI) to identify a caller and/or call. The use of calling/billing line number does not indicate the actual identity of the caller. Furthermore, the Dialed Number does not always indicate the specific purpose of the call and the best way to always answer the call. ANI and Dialed Number when used for call processing purposes, can provide misleading information.
The present invention is a new, unique, and much needed call processing system that provides substantial benefits over the traditional use of limited network data and/or switch data, such as Calling number (caller ID and/or ANI), Dialed Number (and/or DNIS), and Equipment type (touch tone, rotary, data). The known, limited network information can lead to less than accurate call limitation, statistical analysis and unique caller input format selection. As stated above, known use of telephone network data and/or switch data is very imprecise as to whom is calling. To limit the callers or select caller input templates and caller data request selections based on ANI, Dialed Number and/or equipment type will not give proper representation to businesses, schools, PBX’s, and/or hotels with thousands of rooms, or cellular/PCS type 1, for example, where all 10,000 ANI’s are the same and represent the system not the mobile ANI. For example, a TV ad offering a free breakfast for Father on Father’s Day, shown in Orlando, Fla. would draw hundreds or even thousands of calls from the same small group of ANIs, in this case hotels. The call processor, using known methods, would be able to gather little valuable information based on ANI in this case.
Businesses, hotels, pay phones, PBX’s, college phone systems, and other large gateways must be recognized and taken into account in any statistical analysis using ANI and Dialed Number as call limiters and call input selections. Fortunately, using call enhanced network data and/or switch data such as described herein, will change the caller input data selection and improve the call prompting and call handling by the call processing system and, in many cases eliminate or enhance the value of ANI.
Enhanced Data Available as Part of the Call Processing of the present invention
______________________________________II Digits info indicator digits - indicate phone type (pay phone, residence, business, prison, etc.NPA-NXX LERG Exchange Assignment - use classification for the entire exchange (such as air to ground phones)LIBD Line Information Data Base (ANI for all NANP) caller's name line restriction line service change of ownershipPrivate Database business vs. residence street address ZIP code Social Security Number if residenceChange of Ownership indicates the historical ANI data is no longer relevant due to change in ownershipLine Status based on the in-bound and out-bound lines available, the call handling logic will change.Call Control based on the resources available to the call processor.______________________________________
A preferred embodiment of the present invention is useful in a multi-line, multi-protocol, multi-format, multi-input template call processing system. It utilizes the following:
a) Public and Private Phone Network supplied data and/or switched supplied data
b) Caller inputted data without prompting;
c) Caller prompted by the call processor to input data (information)–as the data may be needed one or multiple times which consist of multiple data items using multiple input formats and templates tailored based on stored data, network call information and data inputted;
d) Caller responding to the call processor requests, and inputting data as needed via touch tone, pulse dial, voice recognition, word spotting and/or voice prints, and electronic data in conjunction with voice (for example, data over voice, ADSI, etc.);
e) Proper call routing, as required, after the reason for the call and/or identity of the caller has been sufficiently determined;
f) Proper call identification as the call is passed on to the next call handling location–whether live and/or automated;
g) Access to stored data to control, identify, modify, route, rate, tax, compare and process the current call;
h) Updating stored data to currently (real time) and historically track what transpired, to provide information to other locations who may be still processing the current call, to provide future treatment of the same caller(s) or new caller(s) to the same Dialed Number and/or other Dialed Numbers, to aid and provide telephone related services, customer services, information to customers, to respond to customer queries and the sale and use of products and services, and other services and products and to aid and develop billing and reporting data;
i) To record words, inputs, opinions, feelings, desires, knowledge, experience, and other data from individual callers and/or a selection of callers that are processed as part of the call, once and multiple times, during and/or after the call, that could affect the next caller to same Dialed Number or a set of related Dialed Numbers and/or other Dialed Numbers, after all the calls over a period of time, (such as a statistical analysis), and on a rolling basis with each sub-set of callers to select a further set.
The present invention uses twelve (12) relatively new technologies and concepts individually and in combination with existing technologies to provide enhanced call processing. The twelve (12) new technologies for use in call processing environments, of the present invention, are:
1) II digits–info indicator digits that are now part of the SS7 (Signaling System 7) and/or ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) that provides ANI definition and restriction information for each phone call (see Bellcore documentation for II digits, SS7, and ISDN documentation) and define phone type–business, residence, pay phone, institution, local only, etc. for each call.
2) NPA-NXX type (reference LERG, the first 6 digits of all North American Numbering Plan (NANP)) defines ANI digits into a fixed classification (pagers, cellular phone, air to ground, POTS, etc.).
3) ADSI–Analog Display Serial Interface phones–and other data with voice over the same call (voice/data modems, ISDN, BRI, etc.) where data and voice coexist at the same time, or different times, over the same voice path of the call: this allows the call processor to create displays and soft key(s) on the caller’s terminal (PC, ADSI phone, Kiosk, etc.) and to accept voice, soft keys (keys defined for just that display), data input-keyed data, screen touch data input, touch tone and voice recognition and voice print inputs; all intermixed at the caller’s and call processor’s discretion.
4) Line Information Data Base (LIDB): the local phone company’s customer data base is on line and available for real time access (USA and Canada) to determine
a) Is the ANI valid (turned on);
b) Validate the LEC calling card PIN; and
c) Restricted ANI services (no collect call, for example).
5) Caller’s Name–As an implementation of caller ID, the billing name is available for the USA and Canada on a real time basis. This is a new special feature accessed through LIDB in the January, 1996 time frame.
6) Access to information, public and private databases that are keyed by a code contained in the call data (e.g.–ANI): one existing database has the phone type for example–business versus residential for 85-90% of all phones in the USA and Canada, both listed and unlisted, with Zip code and street address, again on-line and indexed by ANI for 85-90% of the USA and Canada.
7) Access to information that is keyed to a unique number or reference that is not a part of ANI–such as Frequent Flyer Number, account number, customer specific keyed such as a ticket number, Social Security Number, credit card number, sweepstakes number, or other unique key for the service, product or event.
8) Biller’s databases by ANI and/or NPA-NXX; whether the call can be billed by one or more billers.
9) Prior knowledge by ANI and/or other unique identifier such as credit card number as it:
a) Relates to billing and/or usage:
i) Call velocity–the past number of calls over different periods of time (current day, week, month, 45 days, year, etc.);
ii) Dollars billed and billing velocity–the amount of billing transactions and dollars billed by the biller and/or service provider bureau over different periods of time to be used to control credit decisions;
iii) Customer service and satisfaction–services the customer will not pay for or has a tendency to refund and/or the party who is assigned the ANI or billing identifier wants blocked;
b) As it relates to prior calls and/or selections:
i) Score or level attained in a program, event, promotion, or several programs;
ii) Level of proficiency or approximate knowledge attained based on ANI, Caller Identifier, or real identity (for example–based on Social Security Number).
c) As a method to control entry into the particular program or restrict entry based on prior usage identity and performance.
10) Change of ownership and/or status–using the ANI “Bill To” name (caller ID name): if not available then accessing other commercial Bill To” name and address databases or other information other than LIDB to use as the equivalent to caller’s name and storing the “Caller ID” name for reference.
a) The system can be checked based on a date and/or “last called” usage and/or other frequency triggers to see if the “Bill To” or other stored data as required has changed for a given ANI. If the “Bill To” (or other data) has changed (through LIDB, presentation of the call, etc.), clearing out, resetting and/or modifying prior stored data to a history file (if so elected to save) and resetting or modifying the current stored data to reflect the new “Bill To” (or other data).
11) User-to-user data passed through the IAM (Initial Address Message) of the incoming call: “User-to-user” data is a field in the IAM (up to 255 characters long) that can pass additional data about the call with the presentation of the call.
12) “Line Status” and/or “Call Control” of the Call Processor: in-bound to and outbound from “line Status” of the call processor is a major element in determining the actions of the call processor. As the in-bound lines to the call process reach 100% utilization (i.e. 190 lines in use of 200 available (95%) utilization), the call processor may start refusing, rejecting, and/or shedding in-bound calls based on priority. The same is true with out-bound lines from the call processor to other devices such as lines to a conference bridge, ACD, live agents, text to speech or other custom platforms, On Net-to-On Net, another switch or network. Based on the almost full status (up to 90+%) or full or even over-full; the call processor is holding callers in que in excess of the capacity of the next destination of the call; the call processor may start to reject, refuse or shed in-bound calls based on the anticipated destination of the calls. Give the in-bound line status and/or out-bound line status of the call processor plus network data about pending calls, the call processor will use the “Line Status” and/or “Call Control” to change the acceptance and processing of calls.