Charter Buys Aereo Location-Shifting Invention

Charter Communications has acquired a location-shifting invention that tech pioneer Chet Kanojia developed for Aereo, according to a patent obtained by The Donohue Report on Tuesday.

The invention, “Cloud based location shifting service,” could allow Charter “users to access content transmissions from their home market when they are not physically present in their home market,” according to the patent that was published today.

Kanojia, who recently launched wireless broadband startup Starry, sold Aereo’s intellectual property portfolio after the company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2014.

Charter, which has been developing a cloud-based interactive program guide with tech vendors ActiveVideo and Zodiac Interactive, acquired the Aereo patent last summer, according to a power-of-attorney document filed at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

It’s worth noting that Charter has also tested TiVo’s user interface, and that TiVo acquired some of Aereo’s assets through the bankruptcy proceeding.

Another interesting connection — former ActiveVideo Chairman Gary Lauder was an investor in Aereo. And in 2013, ActiveVideo showed attendees at the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo a cloud-based version of TiVo’s user interface that could be used to allow cable subscribers to access both linear TV content and programming from Netflix, Hulu and other over-the-top video providers.

Abstract: A method and system for enabling users to access video capture services from a home market while temporarily located in outside of it, i.e., roaming. The user temporarily located outside of their home market uses a regional system as a proxy in a home market in which the user is able to receive regional content. The regional system then transfers the regional content to the roaming user.

Patent

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Claims:

1. A method for streaming television programs originating from home markets to users temporarily located outside the home markets, the method comprising: determining geographical physical locations of the users to determine if the users are located outside of a geographic region of their respective home markets; in response to determining that the users are located outside of their respective home markets, transferring the users to regional capture and distribution systems located within the respective home markets of the users and restricting access of the users only to the regional capture and distribution systems located within the respective home markets of the users, wherein each of the regional capture and distribution systems comprises an array of antennas, with each of the antennas being able to capture broadcast television content transmissions from television broadcasting entities located within the respective market of that regional capture and distribution systems; the regional capture and distribution systems capturing broadcast television content transmissions from broadcasting entities located within the respective home markets of the users as requested by the users with unique antennas that are assigned to individual users, wherein the regional capture and distribution systems transcode the captured broadcast television content transmissions and then store individual copies of the transcoded content transmissions for each of the individual users; and the regional capture and distribution systems transferring the individual copies of the requested transcoded content transmissions to the respective users.

2. The method according to claim 1, wherein the regional capture and distribution systems transfer the requested broadcast television content transmissions to the users via Internet streaming.

3. The method according to claim 1, further comprising determining the home markets of the users based on account information associated with each user.

4. The method according to claim 1, further comprising determining the home markets of the users based on user selections.

5. The method according to claim 1, wherein determining geographical physical locations of the users comprises accessing a global positioning system, accessing cellular phone systems, or looking up Internet protocol addresses assigned to the users in an address geographical location directory.

6. The method according to claim 1, further comprising the regional capture and distribution systems capturing and encoding over the air broadcasts transmitted from the broadcasting entities.

7. The method according to claim 6, wherein the broadcasting entities are television networks transmitting over the air broadcasts.

8. The method according to claim 1, wherein the regional capture and distribution systems operate as geographical proxies in the respective home markets of the users.

9. The method according to claim 1, wherein the regional capture and distribution systems are nodes of a content delivery network.

10. The method according to claim 9, further comprising connecting the regional capture and distribution systems via dedicated links that transfer data between the regional capture and distribution systems.

11. The method according to claim 10, wherein the dedicated links transfer the user requested content transmissions to local regional capture and distribution systems and the local regional capture and distribution systems then stream the user requested content transmission to the users.

12. The method according to claim 1, further comprising the regional capture and distribution system disabling an ability of the users to access live streaming content transmissions when the users are determined to be currently physically located outside their respective home markets.

13. A national system for streaming content to users, the national system comprising: regional systems for capturing and distributing requested broadcast television content transmissions to users from the home markets associated with each of the regional systems, wherein each of the regional capture and distribution systems comprises an array of antennas, with each of the antennas being able to capture broadcast television content transmissions from television broadcasting entities located within the respective market of that regional capture and distribution system, wherein the regional capture and distribution systems transcode the captured broadcast television content transmissions and then store individual copies of the transcoded broadcast television content transmissions for each of the individual users with the regional capture and distribution systems transferring the individual copies of the requested transcoded content transmissions to the respective users, wherein the regional systems capture the content transmissions with antennas that are uniquely assigned to individual users; and a qualifying system that determines geographical locations of the users by accessing global position system, accessing cellular phone systems, or looking up Internet protocol addresses assigned to the users in an address geographical location directory and determines home markets from each of the users, in response to determining that physical locations the users are located outside of a geographic region of their respective home markets, the qualifying system then passes the users to the regional systems covering the respective home markets of the users and restricts access of the users only to the regional systems located within the respective home markets of the users.

14. The system according to claim 13, wherein the regional systems transfer the requested broadcast television content transmissions to the users via Internet streaming.

15. The system according to claim 13, wherein the qualifying system determines the home markets of the users based on account information associated with each user.

16. The system according to claim 13, wherein the qualifying system determines the home markets of the users based user selections.

17. The system according to claim 13, further comprising broadcasting entities that broadcast over the air broadcasts that are captured and encoded by the regional systems.

18. The system according to claim 17, wherein the broadcasting entities are television networks transmitting over the air broadcasts.

19. The system according to claim 17, wherein the regional systems are geographical proxies in the respective home markets of the users.

20. The system according to claim 13, wherein the regional systems are nodes of a content delivery network.

21. The system according to claim 20, further comprising dedicated links that connect the regional systems and transfer data between the regional systems.

22. The system according to claim 21, wherein the dedicated links transfer the user requested content transmissions to local regional systems and the local regional systems then stream the user requested content transmission to the users via the Internet streaming.

23. The system according to claim 13, further comprising the regional systems disabling an ability of the users to access live streaming content transmissions for the users that are determined to be currently physically located outside their respective home markets.