OpenEPC includes all the components and a major part of the functionality of the 3GPP Evolved Packet Core (EPC) standards, along with own researched features, enabling all-IP connectivity over LTE, HSPA, EDGE and other non-3GPP accesses, such as WiFi.
OpenEPC provides the next evolutionary step in operator networks test-beds implementation, by including a substantial set of features, enabling the realization of small size operator testbeds. These are provided by an independent player, without hidden agendas for future commercial roll-outs, focusing on the technology instead. The functionality includes:
- Core Network Mobility Management – It contains the features required for establishing the connectivity user plane, including the implementation of GTP and PMIP mobility, multiple APN support, IP Flow Mobility and zero packet-loss handovers.
- Integration of 3GPP Access Networks – OpenEPC integrates with standard radio components for LTE, 3G and 2G access networks (E-UTRAN, UTRAN, GERAN). It controls wireless connectivity for off-the-shelf devices and the experimentation in real radio conditions including the complete Packet Switched and most important features of the Circuit Switched support. Apart from integration with cost efficient radio components, OpenEPC provides as alternatives its own Base Station emulations nodes, employed in complete virtualized environments, large scale experiments which would otherwise have impractical costs, or for test-beds limited to radio spectrum free technologies.
- Policy and Charging Control (PCC) – A complete PCC set of functions is included in the OpenEPC, enabling charging, QoS support and data path event notifications based on the individual subscription profiles and on the application requirements. For enabling these features, OpenEPC handles on its own the complete data packet manipulation and forwarding, enabling packet classification, gating, traffic shaping and accounting. Signaling of PCC rules is implemented from Application Functions down to the Base Stations and User Endpoints, allowing realistic experiments with resource allocation on the 3GPP Radio Access Technologies.
- Harmonized AAA and subscriber management – Based on an HSS acting on multiple planes, OpenEPC enables the standard AAA functionality for 3GPP and non-3GPP access networks, as well as convergent subscription profile management for PCC, access network selection and IMS services. For non-3GPP Radio Access Technologies, as especially interesting when considering traffic offloading and cost optimizations, the AAA Server and Proxy allows strong and seamless authentication and authorization, even for difficult and untrusted environments, by using SIM-based security in WiFi, WiMAX and other wireless or wired environments ((WPA-)EAP-AKA/AKA’, IPsec and IKEv2 with USIM-based AKA authentication).
- Accounting and Charging – OpenEPC orchestrates charging information from data path and service platforms, individually for each subscriber, through an Offline Charging System. An Online Charging System is also under evaluation and development, as based on R&D demand.
- Client Mobility Support – For selecting the appropriate access networks based on operator policies and executing zero-packet-loss access network selections, OpenEPC features the ANDSF, along with a mobility management module on mobile devices, including radio conditions evaluations and location based handovers. While virtually any mobile platform is usable with OpenEPC for most scenarios, enhanced functionality can currently be experienced on Android and Linux based client platforms, with more client platform options provided on-demand.
- Scalability and Functional Elements Selection Features – Specifically targeting transparent flexibility for scalable distributed architecture and considering the current trends in Network Function Virtualization (NFV), OpenEPC includes dynamic data path selection mechanisms and signaling routing mechanisms.
- User-data Plane Realization – OpenEPC includes its own processing of user-data plane packets, enabling flexible and streamlined control of forwarding, tunnel encapsulations, along with own QoS enforcement mechanisms in user space. The modular nature of the platform allows for easy alternative replacements with hardware-optimized network processing units. For example, OpenEPC’s User-data-Plane transport can be outsourced entirely to OpenFlow v1.4.0 switches with a few extensions in order to support entirely the EPC requirements, providing for a future proof architecture with improved performance, aligned with the latest concepts in the Software Defined Networks (SDN).
The OpenEPC software is based on its own flexible and powerful development framework, designed for creating software-based operator Core Network functionality and components in a time efficient manner. The Core Network Dynamics OpenEPC toolkit, internally named Wharf, provides a shortcut in the R&D through the fast prototyping, streamlined deployment, easy configuration comprehensive functionality coverage and a shortened learning curve.