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PCT 



WORLD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ORGANIZATION 
International Bureau 




INTERNATIONAL APPLICATION PUBLISHED UNDER THE PATENT COOPERATION TREATY (PCT) 



(51) International Patent Classification 6 : 
H04L 12/28, 12/66 



Al 



(11) Internationa] Publication Number: 
(43) International Publication Date: 



WO 00/41359 

13 July 2000 (13.07.00) 



(21) International Application Number: PCTMJS99/30798 

(22) International Filing Date: 23 December 1999 (23.12.99) 



(30) Priority Data: 

09/224,525 



31 December 1998 (31.12.98) US 



(71) Applicant: U S WEST, INC. [US/US]; 1801 California Street, 

Denver, CO 80202 (US). 

(72) Inventor: DAHLEN, Robert, L.; 1366 Saint Paul Street, 

Denver, CO 80210 (US). 

(74) Agent: JOHNSON, Kenneth, J.; Holme Roberts & Owen LLP, 
1700 Lincoln Street, Suite 4100, Denver, CO 80203-4541 
(US). 



(81) Designated States: AE, AL, AM, AT, AU, AZ, BA, BB, BG, 
BR, BY, CA, CH, CN, CR, CU, CZ, DE, DK, DM, EE, 
ES, FI, GB, GD, GE, GH, GM, HR, HU, ID, IL, IN, IS, JP, 
KE, KG, KP, KR, KZ, LC, LK, LR, LS, LT, LU, LV, MA, 
MD, MG, MK, MN, MW, MX, NO, NZ, PL, PT, RO, RU, 
SD, SE, SG, SI, SK, SL t TJ, TM, TR, TT. TZ, UA, UG, 
UZ, VN, YU, ZA f ZW, ARIPO patent (GH, GM, KE, LS, 
MW, SD, SL, SZ, TZ, UG, ZW), Eurasian patent (AM, AZ, 
BY, KG, KZ, MD, RU, TJ, TM), European patent (AT, BE, 
CH, CY, DE, DK, ES, FI, FR, GB, GR, IE, IT, LU, MC, 
NL, PT, SE), OAPI patent (BF, BJ, CF, CG, CI, CM, GA, 
GN, GW, ML, MR, NE, SN, TD, TG). 



Published 

With international search report. 



(54) Title: NARROWCAST OF INDIVIDUAL INFORMATION OVER A DATA NETWORK 
(57) Abstract 

A method and apparatus which narrowcasts individualized 
information (22) to system users (10) with access to a data network 
(14) which carries information such as broadband video data, voice 
data, or other types of equivalent data such as the Worldwide Web. 
Connected to the data network (14) is a push server (16) which 
includes a memory which holds information (22) related to various 
system users (10). Included in the memory are user ID, password, 
as well as a listing of the types of information' (22) which the 
system user (10) wishes to receive. Also connected to the data 
network (14) are various data sources which provide various 
types of information. For example, one source of information 
may be a report server (20) which on a periodic basis provides 
report information. Another type of information may be from 
an alarm server (18) which in real time provides alarms and 
associated relevant information. The system accesses and retrieves 
information from these sources. The information is converted to a 
common format which in turn is provided to the push server (16). 



To System 






Network 
Interface 




Uam 
interface 







V 



12 



\ — to 



FOR THE PURPOSES OF INFORMATION ONLY 



Codes used to identify States party to the PCT on the front pages of pamphlets publishing international applications under the PCT. 



AL 


Albania 


ES 


Spain 


LS 


Lesotho 


SI 


Slovenia 


AM 


Armenia 


FI 


Finland 


LT 


Lithuania 


SK 


Slovakia 


AT 


Austria 


FR 


France 


LU 


Luxembourg 


SN 


Senegal 


AU 


Australia 


GA 


Gabon 


LV 


Latvia 


SZ 


Swaziland 


AZ 


Azerbaijan 


GB 


United Kingdom 


MC 


Monaco 


TD 


Chad 


BA 


Bosnia and Herzegovina 


GE 


Georgia 


MD 


Republic of Moldova 


TC 


Togo 


BB 


Barbados 


GH 


Ghana 


MG 


Madagascar 


TJ 


Tajikistan 


BE 


Belgium 


GN 


Guinea 


MK 


The former Yugoslav 


TM 


Turkmenistan 


BF 


Burkina Faso 


GR 


Greece 




Republic of Macedonia 


TR 


Turkey 


BG 


Bulgaria 


HU 


Hungary 


ML 


Mali 


TT 


Trinidad and Tobago 


BJ 


Benin 


IE 


Ireland 


MN 


Mongolia 


UA 


Ukraine 


BR 


Brazil 


IL 


Israel 


MR 


Mauritania 


UG 


Uganda 


BY 


Belarus 


IS 


Iceland 


MW 


Malawi 


US 


United States of America 


CA 


Canada 


IT 


Italy 


MX 


Mexico 


UZ 


Uzbekistan 


CF 


Central African Republic 


JP 


Japan 


NE 


Niger 


VN 


Viet Nam 


CG 


Congo 


KE 


Kenya 


NL 


Netherlands 


YU 


Yugoslavia 


CH 


Switzerland 


KG 


Kyrgyzston 


NO 


Norway 


ZW 


Zimbabwe 


CI 


Cdte d'lvoire 


KP 


Democratic People's 


NZ 


New Zealand 






CM 


Cameroon 




Republic of Korea 


PL 


Poland 






CN 


China 


KR 


Republic of Korea 


PT 


Portugal 






CU 


Cuba 


KZ 


Kazakstan 


RO 


Romania 






CZ 


Czech Republic 


LC 


Saint Lucia 


RU 


Russian Federation 






DB 


Germany 


LI 


Liechtenstein 


SD 


Sudan 






DK 


Denmark 


LK 


Sri Lanka 


SE 


Sweden 






EE 


Estonia 


LR 


Liberia 


SG 


Singapore 







WO 00/41359 



PCT/US99/30798 



NARROWCAST OF INDIVIDUAL INFORMATION OVER A DATA NETWORK 



FIELD OF THE INVENTION 
The present invention relates to a method and apparatus for narrowcasting 
information over a data network, and more specifically to continuously narrowcasting 
information to system users based upon selections made by the system users and 
additional information bonded thereto. 

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 
Data networks, such as the Worldwide Web, have become a highly used medium 
for the transfer of information. Anyone with a personal computer, a connection to the 
Worldwide web, and a web browser may establish a connection with various sites located 
therein. In the current state of technology, a system user will obtain information from 
a website through use of pull technology. That is, when a system user clicks on a link on 
the website, the web browser sends a request to the Web server on which the site is 
located asking for the relevant page. Once access is provided to the page, the web 
browser downloads and displays the page. 

A number of companies or service providers have recognized the value of 
providing websites which their customers may access in order to view information 
relating to products or services. In particular, a website may provide timely information 
relating to the current state of a company's system which a customer wishes to employ. 
One example may be a company which provides Frame Relay Network Services. A 
Frame Relay Network provides logical connectivity between geographically distributed 
devices, using special circuits, which can be multiplexed over a single access path. The 
Frame Relay Network may consist of two parts. The first part includes customer sites 
which have customer premise equipments (e.g., routers, bridges, frame relay access 
devices) that are connected to a Frame Relay Service. The configuration and 
management of such devices are the responsibility of the customer. The second portion 
belongs to the frame relay service provider, which has a network of switches, commonly 
housed in central offices, and are connected using intemodal trunks supplied by the 
service provider. This network of switches and trunks is typically managed and 
provisioned by the service provider at their own network's operation center. 



WO 00/41359 PCT/US99/30798 

A number of different factors may affect the performance of the Frame Relay 
Network. The service provider typically collects and analyzes information relating to the 
operation of their part of the Frame Relay Network. Those customers which transmit 
information over this network may from time to time wish to view status information 
5 relating to the operation of the Network. 

Currently, a customer may be required to call a customer service representative 
at the Frame Relay Service provider or connect to the Frame Relay Service provider's 
Website in order determine events and view their data and reports. In the event a 
connection is established with the website, the customer, using a web browser, must pull 
10 information relevant to the Network operation to its user interface for viewing. Every 
time a further update is desired, another connection must be established with the website. 
If a customer wishes to view information from a number of different sources it may 
require establishing connections with a number of websites or talking to a customer 
service representative. 

15 

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION 
The inventor has recognized that it may be advantageous for customers or other 
system users with access to a data network which carries information such as broadband 
video data, voice data, or other types of equivalent data, such as the Worldwide web, to 

20 receive information through a narrowcast over the data network rather than going 
through the process of accessing a Website and manually pulling this information to their 
user interface. A narrowcast "push" strategy would allow system users to automatically 
and continuously receive individualized real-time information about various equipment 
or services as well as any other selected public network data. The inventor has further 

25 recognized that the information may be narrowcast to system users based on their 

personal preferences and that this information may be further bonded to other relevant 
information. Still further, these personal preferences may relate to information to which 
is unique to the system user, such as monitoring information for systems which the 
system user either owns or has exclusive control over. 

30 The system described herein, may include a narrowcast server device connected 

to a data network, where the narrowcast server device includes the functionality to 



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narrowcast information to system users which have established a connection over the data 
network with the server device. Narrowcast is the functionality to transmit information 
over the data network and have it be received by only the party it was intended for. 

Included within the narrowcast server or a memory device attached thereto, may 
5 be a list of system users with authorization to receive information from the server. Each 
entry may include information as to an address for narrowcasting the information as well 
as the types of information which the system user wishes to receive. Connected to the 
server either through a hard connection or over the data network, is at least one source 
of information. The source of information may be at least one other data server with a 
1 0 connection to the data network. Communication between objects located on the servers 
may be made possible through use of a common programming language such as Java. 
The data server may also include a conversion device for converting data stored on the 
data server to a common format for presentation to the system users. 

In one aspect of the invention, the system users with access to the server, employ 
1 5 a user interface which includes the functionality to establish a connection with the data 
network. In order to establish a connection with the server, the system user may employ 
a web browser with a specially adapted plug-in or a separate data network aware 
application to receive the types of information narrowcast from the server. The user 
interface also includes a memory device for storing information which has been 

20 narrowcast. 

In another aspect of the invention, the system users may have access to the 
information stored on the data server, provide a list of preferences for the types of 
information which they wish to receive via a narrowcast over the data network from the 
server. This list of data preferences along with a system user address and validation code 

25 may be stored within the memory device of the server. The server may further bond 
other relevant information to the system user's preferences. The data preferences may 
include information which relates to the system user alone, such as monitoring 
information for the system user's own systems or components. 

When a system user establishes a connection with the server via the data network, 

30 the list of preferred information for the system user may be retrieved from the memory 
device and the data preferences analyzed. At this point, the server locates and establishes 



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a connection with the information servers which upon which the selected information 
may be located. Once connection is established with the identified data servers, the 
server may be directed to retrieve the selected information for narrowcast to the 
particular system user. Upon location of the information, a conversion process may be 
performed to convert the selected data to a common format. Using the address of the 
system user, the server then narrowcasts the selected information over the data network 
to the system user. The applications included in the system user's interface may then 
provide the capability to receive and display this selected information. Functionality may 
further be included in the system user's interface to, based on selections made from the 
displayed information, retrieve further related information via the data network. 

In yet another aspect of the invention, at least one of the data servers may be an 
alarm server. The alarm server may include a connection to an alarm notifier which may 
receive alarm information relating to the services or system being monitored. In real 
time, the alarm server may convert alarm information received from the alarm notifier to 
a common format and then push this alarm information to the server. The server may 
then push this information substantially immediately to all authorized system users with 
a current connection to the server and have selected to receive this alarm information. 

In yet another aspect of the invention, the information servers include a report 
server, which when accessed by the server, provides report information relating to the 
service or system being monitored. The report information generated may also cover any 
other subject areas desired. Upon initial access by the server, the report server provides 
critical information for the system users currently logged into the system. A conversion 
process may be performed on this information to convert it to a common format. The 
converted report information may then be provided to the server, where it is narrowcast 
to the system users with a current connection to the server and have selected to receive 
this information. On a periodic basi s, the report server may provide further reports to the 
server which are then pushed on to the system users. 

Numerous modifications and additions will be apparent to those skilled in the art 
upon further consideration of the invention. 



WO 06/41359 



PCTAJS99/30798 



BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS 
Fig. 1 discloses a diagram of the continuous narrowcast system incorporated into 
a data network. 

Fig. 2 discloses a system diagram for the server. 

Fig. 3 discloses a system diagram for the typical user interface which establishes 
a connection with the data network. 

Fig. 4 discloses a simplified system diagram for the continuous narrowcast 

system. 

Fig. 5 discloses an example of a customer profile stored in the database of the 

server. 

Fig. 6 discloses a example screen display which may be narrowcast to a system 

user. 

Fig. 7 discloses a flowchart which describes the operation of the system in greater 

detail 

DETAILED DESCRIPTION 
Disclosed in Fig. 1 is a system diagram for an embodiment of the invention. The 
continuous narrowcast system described herein may be implemented on any number of 
data networks. For example, in the system shown in Fig. 1 , communication between the 
particular elements of the system, are provided through a data network 14. The data 
network 1 4 may be any system which carries information such as broadband video data, 
voice data, or other types of equivalent data. One example of such a data network may 
be the Worldwide Web or any networks which may evolve therefrom. The system may 
also be implemented in a Intranet-type data network wherein communication is provided 
between a predefined number of nodes in a closed data network. In order to employ the 
system described herein, a system user may gain access to the data network through 
operation of a user interface. This user interface 10 may be a personal computer with an 
internal memory and a modem. A connection to the data network 14 may be provided 
through the network interface 12. This connection may be established through use of 
phone lines to an internet service provider (ISP), or it may be a established as a backbone 
connection to a local area network (LAN). As described above, the network interface 1 2 



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provides a connection to the data network 14, which includes a number of different 
websites which the system user through use of a web browser may establish contact. 

Shown in Fig. 1 are a number of servers which are part of the data network and 
perform a variety of different functions. The server 1 6 may be implemented as a UNIX 
or other type server known in the art which is directly connectable to the data network. 
Incorporated into the server 1 6 is the functionality to narrowcast information to individual 
system users. Narrowcast is the functionality known to those skilled in the art to 
transmit individualized information over the data network and have it be received by only 
the party it was intended for. The narrowcast server 16 also includes functionality to 
establish connections with a variety of devices connected to the data network. The 
internal elements and operation of the narrowcast server 16 will be described in greater 
detail below. 

Also connected to the data network 14, are one or more information servers. 
Specifically described in Fig. 1 is alarm server 18, a report server 20, and a database 
server 22. One skilled in the art would realize that any number of sources of information 
may be accessed and that the inclusion of only three data servers in the embodiment 
disclosed herein is for description purposes only. The alarm server 1 8 is a network server 
maintained in order to store information relating to alarms and other urgent information 
which may be generated during the monitoring of a particular system or process. 
Connected to the alarm server 1 8 is a alarm notifier 24 which is in direct contact with the 
system being monitored. This alarm notifier updates the status of the alarm server when 
alarm information is received. Alarm information gathered from the system being 
monitored is stored in a database on the alarm server. 

The report server 20 stores information relating to a number of periodic reports 
which may be generated for the system or process being monitored. This information is 
provided to the server from a remote location for the purpose of further dissemination. 
Upon request, the report server provides this information to the narrowcast server. 

The database server 22 stores information from any other sources (other than the 
alarm server and the report server) which the system user may wish to have access to. 
Also included in the database server may be information about the system users. This 
information may include IP addresses and preferences for the types of data to be received. 



PCT/US99/30798 

WO 00/41359 

Disclosed in Fig. 2 is an internal system diagram for the narrowcast server 16. 
In order to establish a connection with the data network, a network interface 30 is 
provided. This interface provides for two-way communication over the data network 
with other devices. In connection with the network interface is name server 32. This 
5 name server provides the ability to locate system user information in the system user 
database 36. Database 36 is employed to store information about the system users who 
receive individualized information via a narrowcast. The information stored in this 
information may include system user name and IP address, as well as the types of 
information to be received. 
JO When a system user subscribes to the narrowcast service described herein, 

various types of information are gathered. Other than the personal information which is 
used to transmit the information, a system user must make selections as to the 
information they wish to receive. The narrowcast server provides the functionality that 
when a particular source of data is chosen, additional relevant information may be bonded 
1 5 thereto. For example, if a system user wishes to receive notice of a particular alarm, a 
number of different sources of information may be accessed in order to provide all the 
relevant information. A system user may wish to know about the alarm itself, the trouble 
ticket generated for that alarm, and how recently and how often similar alarms have 
been set off. The bonding process automatically associates this information with the 
20 alarm when it is narrowcast to a particular system user. 

The push server 34 provides the capability of retrieving information via the data 
network from a variety of information servers. Conversion capabilities are incorporated 
into the server to convert the information received from the remote source into acommon 
format for transmission to the system users. Once all the information for a particular 
25 system user has been gathered and converted, the push server narrowcasts this 
information to the appropriate party. This process will be described in greater detail. 

Disclosed in Fig. 3 is an internal system diagram for the user interface 39 
employed by the system user. In order for the present system to operate the user interface 
may include a number of components. The system user establishes a connection with the 
30 network interface through a device such a modem or network card 40. The modem 
allows for the connection via the telephone lines to an internet service provider (ISP). 



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The network card allows the user to establish a connection with the data network through 
a local area network (LAN). Incorporated into the system is a Web Browser 42 of the 
type typically known in the industry (Netscape Navigator, Microsoft Explorer, . . .)which 
allows the system user to contact a number of sites on the data network when a 
5 connection has been established. In the present invention, a narrowcast application is 
also included in the user interface which is specially adapted for receiving and preparing 
the information received during a narrowcast for display. This may be a software 
program which is installed on the user interface. In another aspect of the invention this 
narrowcast application may be incorporated as a plugin in the web browser. The 
1 0 narrowcast application may be employed as a screen server device which is continuously 
updated while a connection is established with the narrowcast server. 

The narrowcast application is in connection with the processor 44 for the user 
interface. Memory 46 is also connected to the processor and may be used to store 
information received during the narrowcast. Once the narrowcast information has been 
1 5 properly processed, it is shown to the system user through display 48. 

The system described herein employs a "push" strategy for making narrowcasts 
which allows system users to automatically and continuously receive real time, 
individualizedinformationaboutparticulartopics. These topics may include such things 
as operational status of an on-site network, equipment (e.g., routers, switches, servers, 
20 PBXs, etc.) as well as any public network data provided by a communications carrier. 

Of particular note is that the information is accessed, bonded, and narrowcast to each 
system user individually. Further the information may relate to the system user's own 
facilities or equipment. For example, if a system user has a communications network 
which it wishes to continually monitor, access would first be provided to the system 
25 user's own databases. Through this access, information may be accessed and bonded 
based on the system users preferences. The information provided may be things such 
as what a carrier engineer views during system operation, such as bonded data (e.g., 
trouble tickets, other reports, graphs, etc. associated with particular events). Because of 
the narrowcast capability this information may be provided only to the system user 
30 because of its proprietary nature. 



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The system described herein is designed to collect , narrowcast, and display data 
from a wide variety of sources in a consistent format. Furthermore, the system described 
herein makes information available in real time while maintaining a low cost. Disclosed 
in Fig. 4 is a simplified version of the system described herein. Information to be 

5 narrowcast is provided from data sources 40-44. When a customer establishes a 
connection with the push server 46, a search is performed for the system user to 
determine preferences for receiving information. Once this is determined, the appropriate 
database is contacted and a further search is performed within the databases to locate the 
requested data. The system user may receive information from more than one data source. 

10 Once the information is located, the data is formatted on the push server. This 

information is then narrowcast over the data network to the particular system user. 

As described above, included within the narrowcast server is a database which 
includes entries for each system user that has subscribed to the narrowcasting system. 
Prior to implementation of the system, information is gathered as to the data preferences 

15 for each of the subscribing system users. The system users may choose to receive 
information from a variety of different sources which are accessible by the narrowcast 
server. These entries may be unique for each of the subscribers. Disclosed in Fig. 5 is 
an example of tabular listing stored in either database 36 or 22, which includes the 
relevant information for a single system user subscriber. This is the information which 

20 is accessed by the name server and then employed to make data selections from the 

remote data sources. Item 50 includes the user name and the IP address for transmitting 
information once it has been retrieved. Item 52 is a password which is checked when the 
system user logs in order to confirm that the system user is valid and that there is 
authorization to access particular sources of data. Item 54 describes the network in which 

25 the system user may be located. Item 56 describes the group. Item 58 describes the 
device, i.e. user interface, which the system user is employing. Different specifications 
are included as to the type of network connection which the system user is employing as 
well as the type of Web Browser which is used to access the narrowcast server. 



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The final entries as shown in the table in Fig. 5 include the types of information 
which the subscriber wishes to receive. Entry 60 covers the type of alarms, entry 62 
covers the types of reports, and entry 64 covers every other types of data which may be 
received. 

The user interfaces, the push server, the alarm server, the report server and the 
database server in the preferred embodiment of the application all communicate through 
use of Java applications. In particular, remote method invocation (RMI) which is a 
distributed object mechanism, is employed to facilitate communication. RMI provides 
the ability to seamlessly distribute Java objects across the Internet and Intranets. RMI 
enables objects in one Java virtual machine to seamlessly invoke methods on objects in 
a remote virtual machine. This allows moving behavior between clients and servers. A 
remote object implements one or more remote interfaces, which are shared Java 
interfaces that declare the methods of the remote object. A method invocation on a 
remote object has the same syntax as a method invocation on a local object. 

To initialize RMI sessions, the client object looks up the server object via a 
naming service running on a given port. The naming service initiates a socket connection 
between the client/server for their communications. Once two objects are connected, they 
can pass references to other remote objects without using the naming service. 

In order to initiate the system described herein, a system user will first establish 
a connection with the data network. At this point, the system user will look up the push 
server via a name server on the same post as the push server. This name server and push 
server may be behind a corporate firewall with Internet access available for clients to look 
up and communicate with the server. The actual object that the name server connects 
clients to will be an authObject that has a reference to the push server object. 

The authObject has one interface: authorize (log in, password). The system users 
submit a log-in/password to the authObject, which looks up the log-in and password via 
the narrowcast server. If the system user is authorized, the authObject logs the client into 
the push server informing the server which data subset they are authorized to receive and 
returns the push server reference to the system user. All access to the push server goes 
through the authObject since this is the only remote object reference which the name 
server provides. Once the process begins, the push server will look up the alarm server, 



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the report server and the database server via a name server on a different node. The 
narrowcast database server will be hosted with its own name server. 

Once authorization is provided for the system user, the push server then 
establishes contact with the data servers. The push server receives reports from a report 
server 20. The report server updates its report state periodically (when report-engine has 
finished updating reports). It queries the narrowcast database for a list of narrowcast 
customers, the reports, and all the gifs and html documents that pertain to that customer. 
With this information, the report server reads these files and formats the data for 
consumption by the push server. Then the push server starts to initialize its report state 
by requesting the current reports from the report server. Then when the report server 
updates its report state, it in turn updates the push servers report state. The push server 
then pushes the reports out to the appropriate system user currently logged in. New 
system users that log in request the current reports for which they have authorized access 
and listen for report updates which are pushed to them via the behavior described above. 

The push server receives alarm data from the alarm server 18. The alarm server 
behaves in a similar manner as to the report server described above. When the push 
servers starts, it initializes its alarm state by requesting the current alarm from the alarm 
server. As the alarm server is updated by the alarm notifier, it in turn updates the push 
server's alarm state which in turn pushes the alarm data out to the appropriate system 
users currently logged in. New system users request the current alarms for which they 
have authorized access and listen for alarm updates that are pushed to them via the 
following behavior: when the alarm server starts, it calls "show alarms' 1 once to initialize 
its alarm state with the "set alarm" currently in the alarm database. Then, it listens for 
"sets" and "clears" from the alarm notifier to keep its alarm state synced up with the alarm 
database. The access of the information database server 22 operates a subset of the same 
manner as the servers described above. 

As was described above, conversion of the retrieved information to a common 
format is performed by the narrowcast server 1 6. Once the information is transmitted to 
the system user's interface, the application or plug-in which has been incorporated into 
the Web Browser displays the information on the system user's display. Disclosed in Fig. 
6 is an example of a screen display which may be employed by the present system. 



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In order to generate a screen display as disclosed in Fig. 6, a request has gone out 
to receive transmissions relating to the operation status of a Frame Relay Network. 
Frame relay monitoring is just being used as an example of the capabilities of the system, 
and one skilled in the art would know that the present system and method may be used 

5 to monitor any number of systems and components. In particular, information was 
requested for the number of octets counted at different points in the systems at different 
times of day. The conversions performed by the data servers allow the information to be 
converted to a common format for consistent viewing by the system users. As long as the 
system user stays connected, the information may be received on a realtime basis. The 

10 display shown in Fig. 6 may be used as a screen saver function. 

Scrolling along the bottom of the screen shown in Fig. 6 are alarms 70 which are 
being narrowcast to the system user. Using a computer mouse, the system user may 
select one of these alarms and through the use of the web browser incorporated into the 
user interface additional information bonded to the alarms may be retrieved. This 

1 5 information may include trouble tickets generated for the alarm and historical information 

related to this alarm. The system user may also access additional information by 
selecting the buttons 72 which appear on the right side of the display. Selection of one 
of these buttons may change the type of information received or may retrieve information 
bonded to the data which is currently being displayed. 

20 Disclosed in Fig. 7 is a flowchart which describes in detail the operation of the 

system described herein, especially in the situation where information is being requested 
for the current operation status of a Frame Relay Network. This flowchart describes the 
operation of the narrowcast after it has been activated and lines of communications have 
been established between the push servers and the various data sources. Initially, the 

25 push server detects the connection being established by the system user in order to gain 
access to the system. At this point, the name server requests the user name and password 
from the system user. Once this is provided the name server will access the push server 
database to retrieve detailed system user information. An analysis of this information 
will be performed to determine that the system user has provided the necessary password 

30 and that the system user is authorized to receive the information requested. If access is 
provided to the system, a analysis is performed of the system user's profile to determine 



12 



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what types of information are to be narrowcast to this particular system user. If there are 
multiple types of information to be received, a connection is established with the various 
information servers over the data network. Slightly different procedures are performed 
depending on whether the server accessed is a report server or an alarm server. If the 
report server is accessed, a request is first made for the current reports. At this point the 
report server generates the desired reports based on the system users which currently have 
access the system. A conversion process is then performed on the reports to put them in 
a common format. Once converted, these reports are then narrowcast to the appropriate 
system user(s). As long as the system user stays on the system reports are provided on 
a periodic basis. The application installed on the system user's interface then displays 
the information. 

In the situation where a connection is established with an alarm server, a requests 
is made for the current list of alarms. Depending on which of the system users are to 
receive which alarms, the alarms are retrieved and converted to the common format. The 
alarms are then narrowcast to the system users currently logged on who have requested 
to receive this information. As further alarms are detected by the alarm notifier, this 
information is converted and then provided to the designated system users automatically. 

The foregoing description of the present invention has been presented for 
purposes of illustration and description. Furthermore, the description is not intended to 
limit the invention to the form disclosed herein. Consequently, variations and 
modifications commensurate with the above teachings, and the skill or knowledge of the 
relevant art, are within the scope of the present invention. The embodiments described 
hereinabove are further intended to explain best modes known for practicing the 
invention and to enable others skilled in the art to utilize the invention in such, or other, 
embodiments and with various modifications required by the particular applications or 
uses of the present invention. It is intended that the appended claims be construed to 
include alternative embodiments to the extent permitted by the prior art. 



13 



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PCT/US99/30798 



CLAIMS 

What is claimed is : 

1 A system for narrowcasting selected information to subscribers over a data 

network, comprising: 

a network interface device connectable to the data network which provides for 
two-way communication over the data network, where functionality is included in the 
interface device to narrowcast information over the data network to system user's with 
connections to the data network; 

a memory device connectable to said network interface device in which 
information relative to preferences for the subscribers may be stored and is searchable 
based on information received by the network interface device relative to any of the 
system user's which have established a connection with the network interface device; and 
at least one data storage device connectable to the data network which stores the 
data to be provided to the subscribers, where certain portions of the data are retrieved 
based on communications from the network interface device, converted to a common 
format, and provided to the network interface device for narrowcast over the data 
network. 

2. The system of claim 1 wherein the data network is the worldwide web. 
3 The system of claim 1 wherein the network interface device is a network 
server with push technology capability. 

4. The system of claim 3 wherein the memory device is a database 
incorporated into the network server. 

5 . The system of claim 1 wherein the at least one memory means includes 
at least one of: an alarm server accessible over the data network, a report server 
accessible over the network, and a database server accessible over the network. 

6. The system of claim 5 wherein the alarm server includes an alarm notifier 
which receives alarm information and updates the alarm status of the alarm server, where 
the alarm server further provides alarm information in a predetermined format for 
narrowcast to the subscribers which have requested the alarm information. 



14 



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7. The system of claim 5 wherein the report server receives report 
information and provides the report information in a predetermined format for narrowcast 
to the subscribers which have requested the report information. 

8. The system of claim 2 wherein the subscriber's establish contact with the 
5 interface device through use of a web browser. 

9. The system of claim 2 wherein information is provided to the subscribers 
relating to operation of a frame relay network. 

10. A method of providing selected information to system users over a data 
network comprising the steps of: 

10 providing a least one source of information which includes information that is 

accessible over the data network; 

detecting connections established over the data network by at least one of the 
system users; 

scanning a system user database to identify selected types of information which 
1 5 the system users with established connections wish to receive via a narrowcast over the 
data network; 

establishing a connection with the at least one source of information, and locating 
and formatting the selected types of information resident on the at least one source of 
information; and 

20 narrowcasting the selected types of information to the subscribers which have 

established connections based on the information identified in the subscriber database. 

1 1 . The method of claim 10 wherein the at least one source of information 
includes alarm information which is generated upon detection of an alarm state and the 
alarm information is provided to via the narrowcast to the subscriber's which have chosen 

25 to receive the alarm information upon the creation of the alarm information. 

12. The method of claim 10 wherein the at least one source of information 
includes report information which is provided to the system users which have chosen to 
receive the report information upon establishing a connection with the at least one source 
of information and then provided on a periodic basis thereafter. 

30 13. The method of claim 1 0 wherein the narrowcast is performed using push 

technology for a data network. 



15 



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PCT/US99/30798 



1 4. The method of claim 1 0 wherein the data network is the Worldwide Web. 

1 5 . The method of claim 1 0 wherein the information provided by the at least 
one source of information is provided by the system user. 

16. The method of claim 10 further including the step of automatically 
bonding relevant information to the selected types of information for narrowcasting to 
the system users. 

17. The method of claim 16 wherein the relevant types of information include 
at least one of: trouble ticket information and historical information. 

18. A system for narrowcasting individualized information to system users 
through a data network, comprising: 

at least one source of information accessible through the data network, which 
provides information; and 

a server connectable to the data network comprising: 

a memory which includes a list of system user's and their data preferences; 

a processor which, based on information relative to the system users data 
preferences stored in the memory, accesses the at least one source of information 
and retrieves information relating to the data preferences; 

a converter which converts the information retrieved to a common format; 

and 

a narrowcaster which receives the information from the processor and 
narrowcasts it over the data network to the subscriber. 

19. The system of claim 18 wherein the processor automatically bonds 
relevant information retrieved from the at least one source of information with the 
information narrowcast to the system users. 

20. The system of claim 1 9 wherein the relevant data includes at least one of: 
trouble ticket data and historical information. 



16 



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PCTAJS99/30798 




NARROWCAST 
SERVER 



-16 



( DATA \ 
I NETWORK J 



7 



1/8 

+. TO SYSTEM 









NETWORK 
INTERFACE 




USER 
INTERFACE 







22 



DATABASE 
SERVER 




12 



10 



FIG.1 



SUBSTITUTE SHEET (RULE 26) 



WO 00/41359 



PCT/US99/30798 



2/8 



PUSH 
SERVER 



-34 



NAME 
SERVER 






NETV 
INTEF 


YORK 
[FACE 



-32 



-30 



1 SYSTEM f 4 — 36 

USER 
{ DATABASE J 



TO 

WWW 



FIG.2 



SUBSTITUTE SHEET (RULE 26) 



WO 00/41359 



PCT/US99/30798 



3/8 



39 



48 



DISPLAY 



40 



MODEM OR 
NETWORK 
CONNECTION 



WEB 
BROWSER 



T 

42 



i 



43 



PUSHCASTER 
APPLICATION 



PROCESSOR 



MEMORY 



44 



46 



FIG.3 



SUBSTITUTE SHEET (RULE 26) 



WO 00/41359 



4/8 



PCTAJS99/30798 




FIG.4 



SUBSTITUTE SHEET (RULE 26) 



WO 00/41359 



5/8 



PCT/US99/30798 



50-*- 


USER NAME AND ADDRESS 


52-r~ 


PASSWORD 


54-r- 


NETWORK 


56-^ 


GROUP 


58-*- 


DEVICE (COMPUTER TYPE) 


60-^ 


ALARMS 


62-^ 


REPORTS 


64-T" 


OTHER DATA 



FIG.5 



SUBSTITUTE SHEET (RULE 26) 



WO 00/41359 



PCT/US99/30798 



6/8 



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SUBSTITUTE SHEET (RULE 26) 



WO 00/41359 



7/8 



PCT/US99/30798 



SYSTEM USER 
ESTABLISHES A 
CONNECTION WITH 
SERVER 



END ^ 







DENY 
ACCESS 







HAS SYSTEM 
USER PROVIDED 
USER NAME AND 
PASSWORD 



ACCESS SYSTEM 

USER 
PREFERENCES 



BASED ON 
SYSTEM USER 
PREFERENCES 
ACCESS DATA 
SERVERS WHICH 

CONTAIN 
INFORMATION 






REQUEST 
CURRENT 
REPORTS 








RETRIEVE 
REPORTS BASED 
ON SYSTEM USERS 
CURRENT 
LOGGED ON 








CONVERT 
RETRIEVED 
REPORTS TO 
COMMON FORMAT 
FOR BROADCAST 








BROADCAST 
REPORTS 
TO THE 
APPROPRIATE 
SYSTEM USERS 








PROVIDE REPORTS 
TO PUSH SERVER 







FIGJa 



SUBSTITUTE SHEET (RULE 26) 



WO 00/41359 



PCT/US99/30798 



8/8 



CONTINUE 
PROVIDING 
PERIODIC REPORTS 
FOR SYSTEM USERS 
WITH ESTABLISHED 
CONNECTIONS 



HAVE ALL N v _- 
TYPES OF XYES 
.INFORMATION BEEN 
RETRIEVED? 



NO 



J 



ESTABLISH A 
CONNECTION WITH 
THE ALARM SERVER 



BASED ON SYSTEM 
USER PREFERENCES 
RETRIEVE CURRENT 
ALARMS 



TRANSMIT ALARM 
INFORMATION TO 
PUSH SERVER 


' 


f 


BROADCAST 
ALARMS 
TO APPROPRIATE 
SYSTEM USERS 







CONVERT ALARM 
INFORMATION TO 
CONNECTION 
FORMAT 



CONTINUING 
FORMATTING AND 
TRANSMITTING 
ALARMS AS 
THEY ARE 
RECEIVED 



C end ) 



FIG.7b 



SUBSTITUTE SHEET (RULE 26) 



INTERNATIONAL SEARCH REPORT 



tfliernaiiooal application No. 
PCT/US99/30798 



A. CLASSIFICATION OF SUBJECT MATTER 
IPC(6> : H04L 12/28. 12/66 

US CL : 370/400. 429; 709/201 - a .tw~ 

According to International Patent Classification (IPC) or to both national classification and IPC 

B. FIELDS SEARCHED 



Minimum documentation searched (classification system followed by classification symbols) 

U.S. : 370/352, 354. 355, 356. 400. 410. 429; 707/4; 709/201.219 
Documentation searched other than minimum documentation to the extent that such documents are included in the fields searched 



Electronic data base consulted during the international search (name of data base and. where practicable, search terms used) 
EAST 



C. DOCUMENTS CONSIDERED TO BE RELEVANT 



X,P 
Y,P 

Y, P 



Category* 



A, P 



Citation of document, with indication, where appropriate, of the relevant passages 



US 5,987,454 A (HOBBS) 16 NOVEMBER 1999, Figure 4, column 
14 lines 1-67, column- 15 lines 1-29 



US 5,862,325 A (REED et al.) 19 January 1999, Figure 1, column 
37, lines 35-62. 

US 5,838,682 A (DEKELBAUM et al.) 17 NOVEMBER 1998, 
Figure 1, column 9, lines 10-63. 

US 5,991,306 A (BURNS et al.) 23 November 1999, Figure 1, 
column 2, lines 1 to 50. 



Relevant to claim No. 



1-4, 8,10, 12-16, 
18, 19 

5-7, 9, 11, 17, 19 
5-7,9, 11, 17, 19 
2,4,5, 13-16 
2, 4, 8, 13, 14, 



□ Further documents are listed in the continuation of Box C . , Q See patent family annex 



-p. 



Special categories of cited documents: 

document defining the general state of the art which is not considered 
to be of particular relcrince 

earlier document published on or after the international filing date 
document which may throw doubts on priority cUun(s) or which is 
cited to establish the publication dale of another citation or other 
special reason (as ipecified) 

document referring to en oral disclosure, use. exhibition or other 



document published prior to the international filing date but later than 



later document published after the international filing date or priority 
date and not in conflict with the applicauon but cited to understand 
ihe principle or theory underlying the invention 

document of particular relevance, the claimed invenuon cannot be 
considered novel or cannot be considered to involve an inventive sup 
when the document ts taken alone 

document of particular relevance, the claimed invention cannot be 
considered to involve an inventive step when the document is 
combined with one or more other such documents, such combination 
being obvious to a petson skilled in the art 

document member of the same patent family 



Date of the actual completion of the international search 
02 MARCH 2000 


Date of mailing of the international search report 

12APR200Q 


Name and mailing address of the ISA/ US 
Commissioner of Patents and Tradcm—to 
Box PCT 

Washington, D.C. 20231 
Facsimile No. (703) 305-3230 


Authorized officer p^J) - 
Telephone No. (703) 305-3900 CS '/ 



Form PCT7ISA/210 (second sheet)(July 1992) *