CenturyLink Mulls Subsidized Broadband, Content

00020001

CenturyLink customers could receive free or discounted broadband and pay TV services if they agree to restrict viewing to a walled garden of content supplied by networks offering subsidies, according to a recent patent application.

“The subsidy might include a partial or full subsidy for the user’s Internet access (e.g., broadband access, optical fiber access, high-speed access, etc.), purchasing deals or discounts toward purchase or rental of products, content, applications, and/or services associated with the third party purchasing points toward purchase or rental of products, content, applications, and/or services associated with the third party, or any other suitable form of incentive, and/or the like,” CenturyLink states in the patent application.

FarganoMichael Fargano, industry standards program manager in the office of CTO, is named as inventor on the patent, titled, “Consumer Choice for Broadband Application and Content Services.”

Abstract: Novel tools and techniques might provide for implementing application, service, and/or content access control. Based at least in part on a consumer’s choice of applications, services, content, and/or content providers–particular in exchange for a subsidy on content and/or network access fees provided to the consumer by chosen content providers–, a computing system may determine whether access to applications, services, and/or content not associated with the chosen content providers (“other content”) should be allowed or restricted. If restricted, the computing system might utilize various network access techniques and/or technologies to block the consumer’s access to the other content, to allow access to the other content on a charge per access basis, or to allow access to the other content at reduced network access speeds. In some embodiments, an access provider (e.g., an Internet service provider, etc.) might perform both determination and implementation of content access and restriction.

Patent

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Claims:

  1. A method for providing a marketplace for consumers to choose at least one of content or content providers, the method comprising: providing, with a first computer, a user interface for a user to choose content or content providers; receiving, at a second computer over a network via the first computer and via the user interface, a selection from the user of at least one of one or more first content or one or more content providers, the one or more first content being associated with the one or more content providers; receiving, at the second computer, a request from the user to access one or more second content; determining, with the second computer, whether the one or more second content is associated with the one or more content providers; based on a determination that the one or more second content is associated with the one or more content providers, relaying the request to a third computer to allow the user access to the one or more second content; based on a determination that at least one second content of the one or more second content is not associated with any of the one or more content providers, restricting access, by the user, to the at least one second content.
  1. The method of claim 1, wherein the one or more first content and the one or more second content each comprises at least one of applications, video content, audio content, image content, game content, website content, Internet search result content, application services, media content services, on-line services, or tangible services associated with one or more of application services, media content services, or on-line services.
  1. The method of claim 1, wherein the first computer comprises a user device selected from a group consisting of a tablet computer, a smart phone, a mobile phone, a portable gaming device, a laptop computer, a desktop computer, a gaming console, a television, a digital video recorder, a set-top box, a media content presentation device, and a mobile user device interface apparatus.
  1. The method of claim 1, wherein the user interface comprises a web portal.
  1. The method of claim 1, wherein the second computer and the third computer are the same computer.
  1. The method of claim 1, wherein at least one of the second computer or the third computer is a server computer associated with an access provider.
  1. The method of claim 6, wherein the access provider is an Internet service provider, and, in exchange for one of a partial subsidy or a full subsidy, provided to the user by the one or more content providers, for Internet services for the user, the user agrees to be subject to restricted Internet service access to content associated with competitors of the one or more content providers, the restricted Internet access being implemented by the Internet service provider.
  1. The method of claim 7, wherein the at least one second content comprises at least one of website content, Internet search result content, Internet-based media content services, or on-line services, wherein restricting access, by the user, to the at least one second content, based on a determination that at least one second content of the one or more second content is not associated with any of the one or more content providers, comprises one of: blocking user access to the at least one of website content, Internet search result content, Internet-based media content services, or on-line services; allowing user access to the at least one of website content, Internet search result content, Internet-based media content services, or on-line services, on a charge per access basis; or allowing user access to the at least one of website content, Internet search result content, Internet-based media content services, or on-line services, at reduced network access speeds.
  1. A method for providing a marketplace for consumers to choose at least one of content or content providers, the method comprising: receiving, at a first computer, a request from a user to access one or more first content; determining, with the first computer, whether access, by the user, to content that is not associated with one or more content providers should be restricted; determining, with the first computer, whether the one or more first content is associated with the one or more content providers; based on a determination that the one or more first content is associated with the one or more content providers, relaying the request to a second computer to allow the user access to the one or more first content; based on a determination that at least one first content of the one or more first content is not associated with any of the one or more content providers and based on a determination that access, by the user, to content that is not associated with one or more content providers should be restricted, restricting access, by the user, to the at least one first content.
  1. The method of claim 9, further comprising: providing, with a third computer, a user interface for the user to choose content or content providers; receiving, at the third computer and via the user interface, a selection from the user of at least one of one or more second content or the one or more content providers, the one or more second content being associated with the one or more content providers; and storing, by the third computer and in a database over a network, the selection from the user of at least one of the one or more second content or the one or more content providers, wherein determining, with the first computer, whether access, by the user, to content that is not associated with one or more content providers should be restricted comprises determining, with the first computer, whether access, by the user, to content that is not associated with one or more content providers should be restricted, based at least in part on the selection from the user of at least one of one or more second content or the one or more content providers.
  1. The method of claim 9, determining, with the first computer, whether access, by the user, to content that is not associated with one or more content providers should be restricted comprises: accessing, with the first computer and from a database over a network, a user profile associated with the user; and determining, with the first computer, whether the user profile indicates that the user has entered into a content access agreement with one or more content provider
  1. The method of claim 11, wherein at least one of the first computer or the second computer is a server computer associated with an Internet service provider, wherein the content access agreement provides that, in exchange for one of a partial subsidy or a full subsidy, provided to the user by the one or more content providers, for Internet services for the user, the user agrees to be subject to restricted Internet service access to content associated with competitors of the one or more content providers, the restricted Internet access being implemented by the Internet service provider.
  1. The method of claim 9, determining, with the first computer, whether access, by the user, to content that is not associated with one or more content providers should be restricted comprises: accessing, with the first computer, an access control list associated with at least one of the user or devices associated with the user; determining, with the first computer, whether content that is not associated with any of the one or more content providers should be restricted, based at least in part on the access control list.
  1. The method of claim 13, wherein restricting access, by the user, to the at least one first content comprises one of blocking user access to the at least one first content, allowing user access to the at least one first content on a charge per access basis, or allowing user access to the at least one first content at reduced network access speeds, based at least in part on a determination that content that is not associated with any of the one or more content providers should be restricted, such determination being based on the access control list associated with at least one of the user or devices associated with the user.
  1. The method of claim 13, further comprising: providing, with a fourth computer, virtual network functions as a service (“VNFaaS”) functionality to the one or more content providers to enable the one or more content providers to provide updated access control lists associated with at least one of the user or devices associated with the user.
  1. The method of claim 15, further comprising: providing, with the fourth computer, the updated access control lists associated with at least one of the user or devices associated with the user to a plurality of routers and servers in the network, using operations support systems (“OSS”), the plurality of routers and servers contributing to at least one of providing access to the one or more first content or restricting access to the at least one of the one or more first content.
  1. The method of claim 9, wherein the one or more first content each comprises at least one of applications, video content, audio content, image content, game content, website content, Internet search result content, application services, media content services, on-line services, or tangible services associated with one or more of application services, media content services, or on-line services.
  1. The method of claim 9, wherein restricting access, by the user, to the at least one first content comprises blocking user access to the at least one first content.
  1. The method of claim 9, wherein restricting access, by the user, to the at least one first content comprises allowing user access to the at least one first content on a charge per access basis.
  1. The method of claim 9, wherein restricting access, by the user, to the at least one first content comprises allowing user access to the at least one first content at reduced network access speeds.
  1. The method of claim 9, wherein restricting access, by the user, to the at least one first content comprises controlling delivery of the at least one first content.
  1. The method of claim 21, wherein controlling delivery of the at least one first content comprises implementing application aware network management on per subscriber basis.
  1. The method of claim 21, wherein controlling delivery of the at least one first content comprises implementing software defined networking (“SDN”).
  1. The method of claim 21, wherein controlling delivery of the at least one first content comprises implementing deep packet inspection (“DPI”).
  1. The method of claim 21, wherein controlling delivery of the at least one first content comprises implementing network functions virtualization (“NFV”) with management and orchestration functions.
  1. The method of claim 21, wherein controlling delivery of the at least one first content comprises implementing at least one of service chaining graphs or service forwarding graphs.
  1. The method of claim 9, wherein the first computer is a computer associated with an access provider, wherein the first computer hosts a network functions virtualization infrastructure (“NFVI”) platform, on which at least one of an application or a virtual network function (“VNF”) that is associated with at least one content provider of the one or more content providers is run, wherein at least one of determining whether access, by the user, to content that is not associated with one or more content providers should be restricted, determining whether the one or more first content is associated with the one or more content providers, relaying the request to a second computer to allow the user access to the one or more first content, and restricting access, by the user, to the at least one first content is performed by the at least one of the application or the VNF running on the NFVI platform hosted on the first computer.
  1. An apparatus, comprising: a non-transitory computer readable medium having encoded thereon a set of instructions executable by one or more computers to perform one or more operations, the set of instructions comprising: instructions for receiving a request from a user to access one or more first content; instructions for determining whether access, by the user, to content that is not associated with one or more content providers should be restricted; instructions for determining whether the one or more first content is associated with the one or more content providers; instructions for, based on a determination that the one or more first content is associated with the one or more content providers, relaying the request to a second apparatus to allow the user access to the one or more first content; and instructions for, based on a determination that at least one first content of the one or more first content is not associated with any of the one or more content providers and based on a determination that access, by the user, to content that is not associated with one or more content providers should be restricted, restricting access, by the user, to the at least one first content.
  1. A computer system, comprising: one or more processors; and a non-transitory computer readable medium in communication with the one or more processors, the computer readable medium having encoded thereon a set of instructions executable by the one or more processors to cause the computer system to perform one or more operations, the set of instructions comprising: instructions for receiving a request from a user to access one or more first content; instructions for determining whether access, by the user, to content that is not associated with one or more content providers should be restricted; instructions for determining whether the one or more first content is associated with the one or more content providers; instructions for, based on a determination that the one or more first content is associated with the one or more content providers, relaying the request to a second apparatus to allow the user access to the one or more first content; and instructions for, based on a determination that at least one first content of the one or more first content is not associated with any of the one or more content providers and based on a determination that access, by the user, to content that is not associated with one or more content providers should be restricted, restricting access, by the user, to the at least one first content.
  1. A method, comprising: providing, with a first computer, a user interface for a content provider to select content to offer subscribers and to enter terms of subscriber offers; configuring, with the first computer, one or more second computers to control delivery of the content, based at least in part on selection from the content provider of content to offer subscribers and terms of subscriber offers.
  1. The method of claim 30, wherein the first computer is associated with an Internet service provider, wherein the terms of subscriber offers comprises one set of terms providing that, in exchange for one of a partial subsidy or a full subsidy, provided to a subscriber by the content provider, for Internet services for the subscriber, the subscriber agrees to be subject to restricted Internet service access to content associated with competitors of the content provider, the restricted Internet access being implemented by the Internet service provider.