The United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued a patent to Information and Decision Sciences Assistant Professor Soumya Sen for the invention of “System and Methods for Variable Pricing of Data Usage.”

Sharing patent number 9865009 are Sen’s colleagues Mung Chiang of Purdue University, Sangtae Ha of the University of Colorado Boulder, and Carlee Joe-Wong of Carnegie Mellon University.

Currently in the United States, internet service providers, both wired and wireless, employ standard schemes such as flat rate pricing, usage-based pricing with caps, tiered pricing, or some combination of these. However, given the rapid growth in bandwidth demand from data-hungry applications, providers are looking to explore newer pricing schemes that are more dynamic in nature, like updating the price depending on traffic conditions. These include Time Dependent Pricing, Location Dependent Pricing, and Congestion Dependent Pricing, among others. Under these pricing schemes, there could be different plans, such as flat to a cap and then throttle or an intelligent flat rate plan.

Sen’s patent addresses a variety of problems with implementing such systems, including a user interface that uses time-dependent pricing to schedule user-specified non-critical applications to remain within a given monthly budget, and middleware that may be located at a base station in a cellular network and/or in pricing servers in wired networks to support different types of pricing schemes and data plans.