Counterpath Granted Patent Covering Single Number Identity

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Tom Keating
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Counterpath Granted Patent Covering Single Number Identity

Today CounterPath announced that it has been granted a key patent to assigning single-number identity across multiple devices and networks. Patent number 7,804,821 granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office enables CounterPath customers the ability to use the same identity across wireline and wireless networks. Wonder if this patent affects single number identity services such as Google Voice? If so, Counterpath has one sweet patent to go after some licensing!

This patent, entitled “Circuit Switched Cellular Network to Internet Calling with Internet Antennas”  covers the assigning of single identity to multiple devices and how to route the communication services to those devices sharing single identity. To be honest, the patent reminds me of Vonage's VonagePro service, their premium service offering that features a softphone with single phone number identity. It allows you to take a phone call from your landline or your softphone without the need to setup call forwarding rules. Of course. Vonage OEM'ed the VonagePro softphone from Counterpath, so they could be using their technology.

Then again in my interview with Vonage on their single number identity they said it was their back-end architecture and development that enabled this.

In my interview, I asked, "What sort of technical challenges did you have having the same CallerID and the same phone number? Obviously, you are leveraging SIP and the ATA that sits at the home residence logs on with one set of SIP credentials and Vonage Companion logs on with different SIP credentials, but it's mapped on your back-end to the same phone number."

Mary Grikas, Executive Director of Device Development responded, "That's really a great question because we actually had to put almost a whole new infrastructure in place with a lot of new equipment. And we actually have proxies that are just dedicated to Companion to handle those calls. We do differentiate between the home TA DID credential and we do have flag for Companion. That way we know, as you said on the back-end it's all mapped and then we know where the call originates. We know if a call originates from Companion versus originating from the TA." Mary continued, "That was a lot of work for our call processing team. They had to do a lot of work configuring that system and all the redundancy and mapping. It was a pretty big effort, but it's something we were committed to doing because we had such an overwhelming request from our customers to implement a feature like that.

So there does seem to be some patent overlap, but I'll have to investigate further.

In any event, Counterpath's patent design gives end users the flexibility to choose between devices based on their needs, preferences and their current location, while maintaining the same phone ID so that other users and services can easily reach them. For example, in the wireless scenario, the end user could configure their mobile service to automatically switch the call to a home phone, office phone, or VoIP softphone to avoid using cellular minutes or for more convenient sending and receiving of text messages. For wireline operators, their end-users are able to move calls and messaging applications to the mobile network only when needed, thus reducing overall mobile spend.

“We are increasingly seeing the market importance of operators moving their subscriber's identity seamlessly between wireline and wireless networks.  This patent builds upon our previous convergence-centric patents by enabling intelligence network selection based on location information”, says Donovan Jones, President and CEO of CounterPath. "This has many benefits for operators and end-users.  As an example, by knowing the location of mobile towers we can automatically turn on Wi-Fi when arriving at the home or office, thus saving precious battery life on the mobile phone. Capabilities such as this are what make the end-user experience so powerful.”

With this patent grant, CounterPath’s IPR portfolio now includes 24 patents, patent applications and exclusive patent rights, expanding the protection available to service providers, both fixed and mobile, enterprises and OEMs that acquire and develop products and services based on CounterPath solutions.

CounterPath’s FMC solutions include the Messaging, Network and Enterprise Convergence Gateways and the NomadicPBX. Each provides seamless, converged mobile identity and presence availability on all SIP-based hard and soft devices enabling a call placed to a mobile number to also ring and be answered on a softphone such as Bria 3 from CounterPath or an IP hardphone. True Find Me/Follow Me, Simultaneous Ringing, desktop SMS and Wi-Fi based calling are all made possible through the wireline or wireless networks.

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