Small Cell Forum LTE Plugfest tackles multi-vendor SON

27 companies join together to work towards greater interoperability and economies of scale to bring the small cell mass market closer

Small Cell Forum LTE Plugfest tackles multi-vendor SON

Multi-vendor self-optimising networks (SON) and voice over LTE (VoLTE) were two of the topics given attention at the Small Cell Forum’s fifth Plugfest, hosted in partnership with European standards body ETSI.

This was the second Plugfest to focus exclusively on LTE small cells and saw attendance almost double compared with last year’s event.

The Small Cell Forum’s Plugfests play a key role in cultivating an effective ecosystem of interoperable small cells, helping to debug vendor implementations and drive the resolution of standards ambiguities and gaps. This all helps provide operators and consumers with a wider choice of small cell products, while also facilitating economies of scale to bring the small cell mass market closer.

Hosted at the Orange labs in Paris over nine days between the 23 June and 2 July 2014, the scope of this second LTE Plugfest included all Small Cell LTE variations. Testing concentrated on S1, X2 and management interfaces (HeMS) and covered areas such as regression testing, handover, mobility (outbound, inbound), voice support via circuit switch fall back (CSFB) schemes, voice over LTE, and mobile alerting system (CMAS).

As well as testing small cell/macro handover and security gateways another focus was the testing of multi-vendor SON in heterogeneous networks (HetNets).

27 companies supported the event with 65 engineers on site from 15 different countries, including equipment vendors, test tool vendors and companies providing test network infrastructure.

The companies involved were: Airspan Networks, Airvana, Alcatel-Lucent, Broadcom, Casa Systems, Cavium, Cisco Systems, Com4Innov, Contela, Fujitsu, ip.access, Ixia, JDSU, NEC, Node-H GmbH, One2Many, Orange, Public Wireless, PureWave Networks, Qosmotec, Qucell, Quortus, Radisys, Sistel Networks, SMEC Co, and Stoke. The event is also supported by the European Commission and the NGMN Alliance.

All participants were able to conduct pre-test integration for the month before the event. Through remote connectivity, all participants had a chance to mitigate connectivity problems in the Plugfest lab. Performing these test cases remotely prior to the event helps to concentrate the Plugfest itself and help ensure a good rate of successful test case execution.

“Driving forward LTE small cells as an open and interoperable technology is not just a technical challenge, it is pivotal to creating product choice and achieving economies of scale,” said Sue Monahan, CEO, Small Cell Forum. “Plugfests offer a key structural underpinning to the new generations of mobile networks but they rely on vendor involvement.

“With almost double the number of companies involved this time around compared to 2013 we’re delighted to see the industry coming together with a shared goal of creating interoperable standards and equipment as an essential ingredient in establishing a healthy and competitive technology ecosystem around small cell technologies,” said Monahan.

“The Plugfest successfully demonstrated that LTE small cells are reaching the maturity of 3G small cells and can reliably handle different voice, video and data traffic types at high volumes,” said Kreso Bilan, chair of the Small Cell Forum Interoperability Working Group.

“With self-optimising networks operators have the flexibility of using LTE to deliver a higher quality of service and 3G fall-back for voice services when required.”

The Forum has conducted four previous Plugfests on topics including device interoperability, management and 3GPP standards.

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