The Small Cell Forum, the independent industry and operator association that supports small cell deployment worldwide, yesterday (20 June 2013) announced it has successfully completed its fourth Plugfest – the first focused on 3GPP Release 9 compliant FDD LTE small cells.
The Small Cell Forum, in partnership with ETSI, organised the Small Cell LTE Plugfest from 10-14 June 2013, hosted by the SINTESIO test lab in Slovenia. The Forum’s series of Plugfests aims to cultivate an effective ecosystem of interoperable small cells (3G, LTE and the integration of Wi-Fi with these licensed technologies).
This helps provide operators and consumers with a wider choice of small cell products while also facilitating economies of scale. The Plugfest was supported by 16 companies including equipment vendors, test tool vendors and companies providing test network infrastructure.
The primary objective of the event, organised by the ETSI Centre for Testing and Interoperability, was to demonstrate the effectiveness of the 3GPP LTE standards in supporting interoperability between small cells and Evolved Packet Core (EPC) equipment from different vendors.
The companies involved were: Airspan Networks, Argela, Athonet, Cisco, Fujitsu, JDSU, NEC, Node H, Qucell, Quortus, Radisys, SANJOLE, SpiderCloud Wireless, Stoke, Telekom Slovenije and Iskratel.
Companies also had the possibility of connecting remotely for six weeks into the hosting lab. The 3GPP LTE Release 9 standards were frozen in December 2009 and are widely used in LTE macro networks. Small cells compliant to the standards allow mobile operators to simplify deployment and enable better coverage and capacity for their LTE networks.
Successful interoperability tests, monitored by test tools, were conducted between small cells and EPCs, security gateways, macro eNodeB and as an option HeNB gateways to verify the S1 interface implementations. In a multi-vendor HetNet environment mobility scenarios such as hand-out with the macro network using S1 and X2 interface were tested. VoLTE (IMS) calls were also tested.
The Plugfest routinely repeated tests of IPsec/IKEv2 security protocols which allow small cell to communicate over the public Internet to operators’ core networks in a highly secure manner. The Forum has conducted three previous Plugfests on topics including device interoperability, management and 3GPP standards.
‘The Plugfest series is helping to drive forward LTE small cells as an open and interoperable technology – a critical element in their successful uptake,’ said Neeraj Gupta Chair of the Small Cell Forum’s LTE Working Group.
‘The interest and participation at this fourth Plugfest was greater than previous Plugfests. This high level of attendance is very encouraging and demonstrates the strong interest in LTE small cells across the small cell ecosystem,’ said Kreso Bilan, chair of the Small Cell Forum Interoperability Working Group.
‘The objective of the Forum in helping carriers ‘cross the chasm’ to mass small-cell deployments is brought much closer to realization by the results of this Plugfest,’ said Gordon Mansfield, chairman of the Small Cell Forum. ‘As we continue to drive certainty into the technology and business case of the small cell future, such Plugfests provide the key structural underpinning to the new generations of mobile networks.’