LTE Plugfest focuses on private evolved packet cores

July 03, 2017 //By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Taking a leap forward in private networks with a focus on private evolved packet cores (EPCs), Small Cell Forum (SCF) has successfully completed its fifth LTE Plugfest, hosted by ITRI, Taiwan’s world-leading technology institute.

The Plugfest was one of the first events in the world to test interoperability for private EPCs. These are key enablers for enterprise private networks, which are a significant growth opportunity for small cells –  but only if they can work with the mobile operator’s network seamlessly and reliably.

The success of the Plugfest is a major step towards achieving a compact platform, comprising a small cell and localised EPC, which enterprises can trust to support their specific mobile needs, while also being able to communicate with the main mobile core.

Another key enabler will be shared or deregulated spectrum and the Taipei (Hsinchu) tests took place in this, highlighting the potential for new wide-spread services at affordable deployment cost.

The EPC Plugfest was proposed by SCF board member, SoftBank, and as part of the event, ITRI invited companies to connect small cells to its network and to test them for interoperability and interference.

As in previous Plugfests, participants had the opportunity for remote testing as well as collaborative work in the specialized ITRI labs. Participating companies included Private EPC vendors: Alpha Networks, Athonet, Druid Software, Quortus, and small cell vendors: Arcadyan, Alpha Networks, ITRI and Node-H where Node-H provided reference small cells for the event. Technical support for the event was provided by SoftBank, ITRI and Magnum, a.i.

Private EPC and small cell vendors conducted a series of GSMA and SCF specified tests on the S1, S6a and S8 interfaces, with emphasis on S6a and the S8 interface between private and carrier network EPCs, including VoLTE roaming.