In recent years, progress in the area of mobile telecommunications has changed our way of life, in the private as well as the business domain. Mobile and wireless networks have ever increasing bit rates, mobile network operators provide more and more services, and at the same time costs for the usage of mobile services and bit rates are decreasing. However, mobile services today still lack functions that seamlessly integrate into users’ everyday life. That is, service attributes such as context-awareness and personalisation are often either proprietary, limited or not available at all. In order to overcome this deficiency, telecommunications companies are heavily engaged in the research and development of service platforms for networks beyond 3G for the provisioning of innovative mobile services. These service platforms are to support such service attributes.
Service platforms are to provide basic service-independent functions such as billing, identity management, context management, user profile management, etc. Instead of developing own solutions, developers of end-user services such as innovative messaging services or location-based services can utilise the platform-side functions for their own purposes. In doing so, the platform-side support for such functions takes away complexity, development time and development costs from service developers.
Context-awareness and personalisation are two of the most important aspects of service platforms in telecommunications environments. The combination of context-awareness and personalisation features can also be described as situation-dependent personalisation of services. The support for this feature requires several processing steps. The focus of this doctoral thesis is on the processing step, in which the user’s current context is matched against situation-dependent user preferences to find the matching user preferences for the current user’s situation. However, to achieve this, a user profile management system and corresponding functionality is required. These parts are also covered by this thesis. Altogether, this thesis provides the following contributions:
The first part of the contribution is mainly architecture-oriented. First and foremost, we provide a user profile management system that addresses the specific requirements of service platforms in telecommunications environments. In particular, the user profile management system has to deal with situation-specific user preferences and with user information for various services. In order to structure the user information, we also propose a user profile structure and the corresponding user profile ontology as part of an ontology infrastructure in a service platform.
The second part of the contribution is the selection mechanism for finding matching situation-dependent user preferences for the personalisation of services. This functionality is provided as a sub-module of the user profile management system. Contrary to existing solutions, our selection mechanism is based on ontology reasoning. This mechanism is evaluated in terms of runtime performance and in terms of supported functionality compared to other approaches. The results of the evaluation show the benefits and the drawbacks of ontology modelling and ontology reasoning in practical applications.