CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) has filed for a patent application that could help consumers better screen incoming calls.
In the patent application, CenturyLink said a telephone user can screen calls by allowing users to enter a do-not-disturb mode for callers and receivers of calls.
While users have been able to screen calls by checking the caller identification for incoming calls on their handset or having a call go to voice mail, a continuing problem is that the incoming call means the phone will ring and disrupt the user from whatever they are doing.
"The growth of caller identification and voicemail are examples of communications methods that are simple and effective," CenturyLink wrote in the patent application. "Despite the growth in the communications field, the methods for using do-not-disturb features and presenting caller identification are still quite limited to traditional methods and configurations."
The service provider presents three methods to screen calls.
With the first method, a telephone user can enter a do-not-disturb mode and a first authorization code. Any caller will then have to input a second authorization code, and if the first and second "authorization codes are the same, a notification that a call is being received is generated to notify a called party of the call."
"The instructions cause the processor to: activate a do-not-disturb feature for a telephone, establish a first authorization code, prompt a caller to input a second authorization code, and generate a notification if the first authorization code and the second authorization code are the same," stated CenturyLink in the patent application.
A second scenario could incorporate an "input/output" device that is designed to receive telephone calls from callers, a memory configured to store the set of instructions and a processor configured to execute the set of instructions that will activate a do-not-disturb feature for a telephone.
Finally, a do-not-disturb system could include an electronic display and a telecom device such as a set-top box that could notify a user on their television set that a call has come in.
This device will have an input/output device that can serve various functions: receiving calls, storing instructions and executing the instructions.
Such services could be incorporated as a special feature for consumers who subscribe to CenturyLink's growing IPTV service. In Q3 2012, the telco added 10,000 new IPTV subscribers.
The inventors named on patent #8,325,898 are Curtis Tucker, Shekhar Gupta and Robert Morrill. It was published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office on Dec. 4, 2012 and filed in 2008.
- here's the patent filing
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