A patent by the inventors Jonker, Niels (Santa Monica, CA); Dayton, Sky (Santa Monica, CA); McDaniel, William Paul Allan (Clearwater, FL), filed on September 23, 2011, was cleared and issued on July 31, 2012, according to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews correspondents.
Patent number 8234381 is assigned to Boingo Wireless, Inc. (Los Angeles, CA).
The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: “This invention pertains generally to the field of mobile computing and more specifically to accessing a computer or communications network by a mobile computing device.
“Multiple carriers are installing public wireless carrier networks in high-traffic zones for the mobile business executive. The various locations include hotels, airports, and increasingly in restaurants and coffee shops. There are already a number of wireless-based Internet Service Providers (ISPs). These ISPs provide Internet access in public spaces such as hotels, airports, conference centers and retail establishments. The ISPs typically strike a deal with a landlord where the ISP pays to deploy Access Points (APs) in the facility and then either pays the landlord monthly fees and/or a cut of revenue. Airport authorities are getting into the game, signing up one or more wireless ISPs to deploy APs in airport terminals. In another deployment model, landlords buy the equipment to provide APs and managed network providers agree to manage the network for the landlords.
“Not unlike the early days of the commercial Internet, each provider of wireless Internet access infrastructure in public spaces has a different mode of deployment, requires a different configuration of the user’s machine and a different account and billing relationship. This deployment model may lead to several problems for a user. For example, multiple carriers mean multiple accounts for the user.
Logging onto each successive network means needing a different logon account, and being billed from several sources. Also, networks are still sufficiently sparse as to present a challenge for the user to know when one is encountered, and to which carrier that network belongs. Additionally, inconsistencies in how the networks are configured can present connection hurdles to the vast majority of users who are not well versed in the technology or network management. Finally, configuration of mobile computing device network interface cards is still a one-off proposition. Users presently using Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) software supplied by manufacturers of network interface cards may not be able to negotiate different networks, (i.e., home, office, public) effortlessly and easily log onto all public and private networks.”
In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors’ summary information for this patent: “A method and apparatus for accessing wireless carrier networks by mobile computing devices are provided. An access client hosted by a mobile computing device accesses carrier networks using wireless access points. The access client uses an access point database to identify access points and carrier networks. The access client uses a method database and a token database to access the carrier networks. The access client updates the access point database, the method database, and the token database using an access server when the access client is operably coupled to a carrier network. The access client transmits user information to the carrier network. The carrier network uses the user information to authenticate the user and to generate session data while the user is accessing the carrier network. The carrier network transmits the session data to the access server. The access server uses the session data to generate billing information for the user. The access client also collects network performance data for individual access points and carrier networks. The access client transmits the network performance data to the access server. The access server aggregates network performance data from a plurality of access clients to generate quality of server reports for both individual access points and carrier networks. The access client further includes access point detection and evaluation features for use by a user in selecting access points available at a single location.
“In one aspect of the invention, a method is provided for accessing a carrier network by an access client. The access client detects carrier network signals and determines a carrier network identifier from the carrier network signals. The access client gets an access method from a method database using the network identifier. The access client then uses interpretable or executable instructions included in the access method to get a token from a token database and access the carrier network using the access method and the token.
“In another aspect of the invention, the token includes a user identifier set, such as a username and a user password, used to access the carrier network.
“In another aspect of the invention, the access client transmits a method update request to an access server through the carrier network and receives a method update in response. The access client then uses the method update to update the method database.
“In another aspect of the invention, the access client transmits a token update to an access server through the carrier network and receives a token update in response. The access client then updates the token database using the token update. In another aspect of the invention, the tokens stored in the token database are encrypted and the access client uses a base token to decrypt the encrypted tokens.
“In another aspect of the invention, a method is provided that enables an access client to display to a user a list of carrier networks available for access. The access client detects carrier network signals transmitted from a plurality of carrier networks and determines carrier network identifiers using the carrier network signals. The access client then uses the carrier network identifiers to get carrier network information from an access point database and generates a user selectable list of carrier network identifiers using the carrier network information.
“In another aspect of the invention, the access client sorts the selectable list of carrier network identifiers according to user preferences.
“In another aspect of the invention, wherein one or more of the carrier networks belong to a carrier network system, the access client sorts the list of carrier network identifiers using business logic corresponding to the carrier network system.
“In another aspect of the invention, the access client aggregates carrier network identifiers associated with the carrier network system and displays a carrier network system identifier instead of the carrier network identifiers.
“In another aspect of the invention, the access client determines from the network carrier signals a network standard used by a carrier network and displays a network standard indicator in association with the carrier network’s identifier.
“In another aspect of the invention, the access client determines from the network carrier signals if a carrier network is transmitting and receiving encrypted data. If so, the access client displays an encryption indicator in association with the carrier network’s identifier.”