Small Cell Forum and ITRI take leap forward in private networks

SCF’s fifth LTE Plugfest event focused on private evolved packet cores – a key enabling technology for enterprise small cell use cases

London, 3rd July 2017 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 evolved packet cores (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.

In parallel, SCF also held a 5G workshop; attracting a broad range of speakers from operators and vendors from across the region to share their views on the role of small cells in next generation networks.

“Interoperability is a cornerstone of the telecoms industry and plays an essential role in reaching mass market scale for any technology. This is particularly true with small cells and the drive to making hyperdense 5G networks practical and profitable. When the small cell can be combined with a compact EPC, a host of new service opportunities can be opened up,” said David Orloff, Small Cell Forum Chair. “These Plugfests offer our membership an opportunity to share their expertise and collaboratively build the tools necessary for operators to continue densifying their networks, increasing coverage and capacity, improving services for both businesses and consumers.”

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