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System and Method for Tracking and Managing Cellular Telephone Time Usage Base on Current Plan Disclosure Number: IPCOM000030392D
Original Publication Date: 2004-Aug-09
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Aug-09
Document File: 3 page(s) / 45K

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The invention below describes software functionality to be executed on cellular telephones and other mobile communications devices, which tracks plan time usage and prompts the user when placing or receiving calls, or using other features such as text messaging, which may be outside of free plan minutes.

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System and Method for Tracking and Managing Cellular Telephone Time Usage Base on Current Plan

    When a user makes a cellular phone call or receives a call on the cellular phone, the user does not know what the call charges per minute are going to be. This invention allows the user to make an informed decision whether to make a cellular phone call, or accept an incoming call, on the cellular phone based on the users plan and current usage information. This feature is helpful in managing cellular time usage with all cellular plans; however, it is particularly helpful for users who are on "shared" plans. As a participant in a shared plan, a user may track their own usage and time, however, they generally have no knowledge of, or control over other users sharing the same plan minutes with them. Additionally, many plans charge fees for other cellular-based services such as text messaging, internet access, downloading ring tones, etcetera. This invention would notify the user each time an activity would cause an additional charge above and beyond the charges covered in the cellular plan agreement and would also display current usage data such that the user would know whether or not in-plan minutes are currently available. There is also the ability for a designated (primary) user in a shared plan to lock or protect a certain number of minutes. Users on that same plan with lessor or secondary status would (voluntarily or otherwise) have access to the remaining minutes. The user(s) with primary rights could use this agent to transfer, in real-time, the status of minutes to and from his phone. A software program is outlined which provides data to allow a cellular phone user to make an informed decision whether to make a call, accept an incoming call, or to use other cellular services. This software architecture displays the cost per minute of a call to be made or to be received by interrogating a rate reference database, based on plan membership. The software program allows the user to download, or otherwise set parameter values based on a set of rules associated with the call per minute information obtained from the rate reference database, time of day/day of week, and roaming status. The parameter values will determine whether or not the cost per minute information is displayed on the cellular phone screen by the program. If enabled, in the phone's "display" a call whose first minute (or longer) is free because it is included in the rate plan, (or for some other reason), is shown as "free of charge" along with status information about how many minutes remain in the current period and the end date of the current period, or other similar information such as; free for 511, 611 services, amount for directory services (sometimes first 4 free in the month) etc. The rate reference database would contain information about the various plans and memberships available for all service providers in the United States and abroad or could be maintained in...