Femto Forum plans plugfest

Equipment makers to validate the recent 3GPP femtocell standard through interoperability testing.

It will begin with the 'First Femto Forum UMTS Femtocell Plugfest' in March 2010, in co-operation with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

The idea is to increase the interoperability of products from different vendors, which should give operators and consumers a wider choice of equipment, and broaden the vendors' markets.

The program will involve interoperability tests between femtocell network gateways, security gateways, femtocell access points and chipsets from all the key vendors to verify the 3GPP's Iuh interface as defined in release 8. It will xalso test the IPsec/IKEv2 security protocols that allow femtocells to communicate over the public Internet to system operators' core networks securely. The release 8 Iuh interface standard, completed in April 2009, provides the interface between femtocell access points and femtocell network gateways in the core network. Equipment upgrades to meet this standard are expected to enter the market over the next six months.

"Vendor interoperability is the key ingredient that will give operators the confidence to start mass deployments. Not only will this allow operators to start mixing and matching their technology providers as they do with mobile handsets today, it will also drive economies of scale to bring down the cost of the technology," said Simon Saunders, chairman of the Femto Forum. "We've had an overwhelming response from vendors keen to take part in this program. There are currently over twenty femtocell access point models and over a dozen network gateways on the market and this program will start to ensure they all work together harmoniously."

The Femto Forum has received strong commitment to participation in the tests from its vendor membership and will report on the results following the event in March 2010.

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