OpenEPC includes all the functions and a mandatory functionality of the 3GPP Evolved Packet Core (EPC) standards, along with researched features, enabling all-IP connectivity over LTE, HSPA, EDGE/GPRS and other non-3GPP accesses, such as WiFi.
OpenEPC 7 is a major milestone in the development of OpenEPC since what started as a project to implement test-beds and provide foundations for R&D has reached a production readiness level in its core functionality.
The features of OpenEPC 7 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 which have evolved from prototypes used for testing to active probing testing tools.
- 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).
- Policy and Charging Control (PCC) for VoLTE and MCPTT – OpenEPC PCC functions (PCRF, PCEF) include the features necessary to enable not only subscriber differentiation in data connectivity based on subscriber profile but also the mandatory features for VoLTE and MCPTT. These features include the Rx, Gx interfaces supporting dedicated bearer activation, modification and removal but also a PCC API on HTTP REST that permits application servers to access additional and more fine grained functionality including priority modifications, service function chaining selection etc.
- Accounting and Charging – OpenEPC includes all the features for accounting and charging in the gateway and uses standard interfaces to connect to Offline and Online charging systems. Offline charging systems functions as standardized by 3GPP are also part of OpenEPC.
- Scalability and Functional Elements Selection Features – All OpenEPC functions are built to scale, in particular horizontally for scaling in an NFV environment. Scaling makes use of standard 3GPP procedures, SDN dynamic remote configuration parameters and for Diameter functions the powerful OpenEPC DRA acting as a load-balancer.
- 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 switches with a few extensions in order to support entirely the EPC requirements directly by the EPC control plane functions interfacing the switches or via an SDN Controller API, 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 software, internally named Wharf is a multi-process cloud-native extremely modular framework that is aligned with agility and CD/CD/CT practices.