Wednesday, June 9, 2010

MultiService Forum Completes EPC Interoperability Testing

An Evolved Packet Core (EPC) interoperability event, conducted by The MSF (MultiService Forum) in March, verified interoperability between EPC elements from a variety of global vendors. The test environment utilized inter-operator interfaces between the Vodafone Centre for Test and Innovation in Düsseldorf and the China Mobile Research Institute in Beijing. Participants in this event included Alcatel-Lucent, Bridgewater Systems, Cisco/Starent, Codenomicon, Huawei, JDSU, NEC and ZTE.

The Evolved Packet Core connects mobile subscribers to the application layer in LTE networks by providing QoS management and mobility functions. This is critical to support data, voice and video during the transition to an all IP network. The MSF said it is vital that operators have confidence in the multi-vendor interoperability of EPC components before they begin volume deployment.

Elements tested during this event included eNodeB (base station), Mobility Management Entity (MME), Serving Gateway (SGW), Packet Data Network Gateway (PGW), Home Subscriber Server (HSS), Policy and Charging Rule Function (PCRF), Proxy Call Session Control Function (P-CSCF), and other elements of the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) Core.

The MSF testing incorporated a series of progressively more complex scenarios that encompassed basic interoperability, roaming, and finally, handover. Testing began with end-to-end calls using EPC elements from one vendor, and then introduced permutations of EPC core elements from different vendors, changing out one element at a time. Test results were carefully logged and discrepancies noted to facilitate a detailed root cause analysis of any problems.

In something truly unique for an event of this type, Codenomicon performed robustness testing on the signaling. The focus of the test effort was GTPv2, a new release of the GTP protocol, which plays a crucial role in communication between LTE core network elements. The goal of the testing was to assess the robustness of new LTE network elements and to enable security testing across network trust boundaries.