Future iPhones may let you compare competing carriers
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Future iPhones may let you compare competing carriers

In the future iPhone users could compare the prices and features of competing carriers and service plans directly on their Apple smartphone, per a new patent for a "Method and Apparatus for Using a Wireless Communication Device with Multiple Service Providers."

The patent involves configuring a mobile wireless communication device using a carrier service configuration profile selected from a set of stored carrier service configuration profiles. Carrier service configuration profiles are selected based on one or more combinations of identifier values stored in the mobile wireless communication device. Carrier service configuration profiles are priority ranked based on a specificity of the one or more combinations of identifier values. Robert Kukuchka, Shuvo Chatterjee, Arun Godfrey Mathias, and Matthew Klahn are the inventors.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Mobile wireless communication devices, such as a cellular telephone or a wireless personal digital assistant, can provide a wide variety of communication services including, for example, voice communication, text messaging, internet browsing, and electronic mail. Mobile wireless communication devices can also run a variety of applications that can generate and reproduce audio, video, pictures, graphics and text in multiple forms, thus providing a user of the mobile wireless communication device a content rich, multi-media experience.

"The user of the mobile wireless communication device can subscribe to one or more services offered by a wireless communication service provider that enable the mobile wireless communication device to access different resources through a wireless communications network. Each user's wireless communication service subscription can be customized to the user's specific requirements. Some users can prefer a voice communication only service through the mobile wireless communication device, while other users can subscribe to additional data services, such as access to the internet or unlimited text messaging. Services offered to a user can depend on the capabilities of the wireless communication service provider through which the user subscribes.

"In order for the mobile wireless communication device to provide the user access to services offered by the wireless communication service provider, certain operational parameters can be configured in the mobile wireless communication device. Some mobile wireless communication device manufacturers customize mobile wireless communication devices for particular wireless communication service providers within a country or geographic region.

"With this customization, the wireless communication service provider can associate the mobile wireless communication device more closely with their brand and with a particular user experience. The mobile wireless communication device can be customized by loading a particular set of operational parameters specific to the wireless communication service provider at the time of manufacture by the mobile wireless communication device manufacturer.

"This customization method, however, can prove disadvantageous for the mobile wireless communication device manufacturer can be required to configure and ship multiple versions of the same mobile wireless communication device, each customized for a particular wireless service provider. It is preferable instead to manufacture one (or a few) versions of the mobile wireless communication device and to distribute generic versions of the mobile wireless communication device throughout the world. The mobile wireless communication device can then be customized closer to or at the final point of sale.

"In addition, a user of the mobile wireless communication device can prefer to use the same mobile wireless communication device at different times with different wireless communication service providers. For example, the user can subscribe to a primary wireless communication service provider at home and to a secondary wireless communication service provider when traveling abroad. At present, automatic customization of a wireless communication device's configuration can depend on a limited set of parameters stored in the wireless communication device, thereby limiting the specificity of customization possible.

"Current methods cannot conveniently offer the flexibility to offer different groups of users that use the same manufactured wireless communication device on the same wireless communication network a different set of operational parameters, and thus a customized user experience automatically without manual user intervention. Thus there exists a need for a method to configure a wireless communication device based on a combination of identifiers stored in the wireless communication device to provide a customized configuration of the wireless communication device.

"This paper describes various embodiments that relate to methods to configure a wireless communication device. A method to configure a wireless communication device based on a combination of identifier values stored in the wireless communication device to provide a customized configuration of the wireless communication device is described.

"In one embodiment a method of configuring a mobile wireless communication device the method includes at least the following steps. In a first step, accessing a set of identifier values stored in the mobile wireless communication device. In a second step, selecting a set of carrier service configuration profiles based on combinations of the accessed set of identifier values. The carrier service configuration profiles are stored in the mobile wireless communication device separately from the identifier values. In a third step, configuring the mobile wireless communication device using one of the selected carrier service configuration profiles.

"In some embodiments the method further includes a step of assigning a priority ranking to each of the selected carrier service configuration profiles based on a specificity of the combination of identifiers used to select the carrier service configuration profiles. Some combinations of identifiers are more generic, while other combinations of identifiers are more specific. The mobile wireless is configured to use a carrier service configuration profile with the highest priority ranking.

"In another embodiment, a mobile wireless communication device is described. The mobile wireless communication device includes at least a processor and a memory unit coupled with the processor. In the described embodiment, the processor configures the mobile wireless communication device by accessing a set of identifier values stored in memory unit, selecting a set of carrier service configuration profiles based on combinations of the accessed set of identifier values, and configuring the mobile wireless communication device using one of the selected carrier service configuration profiles.

"In yet another embodiment, computer readable medium for tangibly storing computer program code executable by a processor for configuring a mobile wireless communication device is described. The computer readable medium includes computer program code for accessing a set of identifier values stored in the mobile wireless communication device, computer program code for selecting a set of carrier service configuration profiles based on combinations of the accessed set of identifier values, and computer program code for configuring the mobile wireless communication device using one of the selected carrier service configuration profiles.

"In still another embodiment, a method is described. The method can be carried out by performing at least the following operations. Providing a mobile communication device having at least a first authentication code for authenticating a user of a mobile wireless communication device to a primary wireless communication service and a second authentication code for authenticating the user of the mobile wireless communication device to a secondary wireless communication service, wherein the primary and the secondary wireless communication services are different from each other and wherein the primary wireless communication service is the user's home wireless communication service, accessing a set of identifier values stored in the mobile wireless communication device associated with the secondary wireless when the user is in an area serviced only by the secondary wireless service, selecting a set of carrier service configuration profiles based on combinations of the accessed set of identifier values, configuring the mobile wireless communication device using one of the selected carrier service configuration profiles, and operating the mobile communication device in the area serviced only by the secondary wireless communication service without roaming."

-- Dennis Sellers

 
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