Small Cell LTE Plugfest

The Small Cell LTE Plugfest in June 2013 was organised by the Small Cell Forum, in partnership with ETSI, and was hosted by the SINTESIO test lab in Slovenia. 

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This plugfest aimed to verify the interoperability between LTE small cells and Evolved Packet Cores (EPC) equipment from different vendors aim to cultivate an effective ecosystem of standardised small cells (3G, LTE and WiFi).

This helps providing operators and consumers with a wider choice of small cell products while also facilitating economies of scale. LTE small cell deployment will help to solve the user’s demand for ubiquitous coverage on the go and innovative mobile data services with sufficient bandwidth. LTE small cells can evolve in the future to become media gateways in the connected home, thus combining LTE and M2M/IOT technology.

The event 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 EPC equipment from different vendors. 

Companies also had the possibility of connecting remotely for six weeks into the hosting lab to prepare for the event.

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 – as an option – mobility scenarios of 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.

Highlights of the Plugfest are:
• All vendors succeeded the mandatory S1 tests
• 2 HeNB vendors succeeded to make a VoLTE call on the dedicated bearer using Iskratel IMS
• 3 HeNB vendors succeeded S1 small cell to macro handout with TS eNB
o inter: band 1 small cell to band 3 macro
o intra: band 3 small cell to band 3 macro, same frequency
o inter: band 3 small cell to band 3 macro, different frequency
• 2 HeNB vendor succeeded S1 small cell to small cell handover with TS EPC
o intra: band 1 small cell and band 1 small cell, same frequency
o inter: band 1 small cell and band 3 small cell, different frequency
• 1 vendor succeeded X2 small cell to macro handout with TS eNB

This activity was supported by the European Commission.