This was presented by Giulio Maggiore, Telecom Italia, ETSI TC INT Chairman in the 2nd FOKUS FUSECO Forum 2011, Berlin 17-18 Nov. 2011
From the ETSI leaflet (note that this is quite old information but still on the ETSI website here):
IMS interoperability is a key issue for boosting IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) roll-out and more specifically network interconnection between operators. Only through thorough testing in practical scenarios can operators ensure operational excellence in a multi-vendor and multi-provider environment.
IMS comprises a set of specifications designed to enable network operators to implement IP-based networks that can carry services for both fixed and mobile customers simultaneously.
IMS was developed originally in the mobile world (specifically in the specifications created by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, 3GPP), and was adopted for fixed networks by ETSI’s TISPAN Technical Committee (Telecoms & Internet Converged Services & Protocols for Advanced Networks).
However this promise of advanced communications over the next generation network will only be delivered if those same networks can interconnect.
ETSI is bridging the existing gap between 3GPP IMS Core Network standards and the initial industry IMS implementations through the organization of IMS interoperability events in connection with ETSI’s Centre for Testing & Interoperability (CTI) and Plugtests™ interoperability testing service.
Our Technical Committee for IMS Network Testing (TC INT) is actively establishing close contact with a number of industry fora and organizations dealing with IMS interoperability, including 3GPP, GSMA, MSF (Multi Service Forum), IMS Forum and the ITU-T. TC INT develops IMS test specification according to conformance, network integration and interoperability testing methodologies. Other ongoing work includes development of tests for Supplementary Services based on regulatory requirements and IMS tests with legacy networks (e.g. SIP-I).
ETSI has already held two IMS interoperability events. The first examined interconnection aspects of 3GPP IMS Release 6, including such issues as basic call on the Mw interface. The second event had a wider scope that included the testing of 3GPP IMS Release 7 interworking, roaming, border control, and integration of application servers executing selected Multimedia Telephony supplementary services.
Future ETSI activities and events will go even deeper towards bridging 3GPP IMS standards and industry implementations. These will include the organization of further IMS interoperability events designed to boost the roll-out and take-off of IMS services and operators’ network interconnections.
This white paper provides a summary of the MultiService Forum’s (MSF) Global LTE Interoperability event which took place from March 15-30, 2010.
The LTE Interoperability Event is designed to test standards compliance of Evolved Packet Core network scenarios of interest to major Service Providers, and to gauge vendor support for this technology. Building on the success of previous Global MSF Interoperability (GMI) events, the LTE Interoperability event provided the first global “real network” multi-vendor trial of the Evolved Packet Core infrastructure.
Incorporating the Evolved Packet Core defined within the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Release 8 (R8) standards, the MSF architecture introduced new access tiles to support LTE access and non-3GPP (specifically eHRPD) access to EPC. The IMS core network provided the application layer for which services may be deployed, and the binding of Quality of Service utilizing the Policy and Charging Control (PCC) for the bearer.
The event demonstrated that most of the defined LTE/EPC interfaces were mature and interoperable; however limited backwards compatibility between different implementations of 3GPP Release 8 specifications did create some issues. The fact that 3GPP does not require backward compatibility is a known limitation, but it is important to understand that this is limiting interoperability with commercially available equipment. Service providers will need to factor this into vendor selection.
Highlights of the event included:-
Sessions were successfully established via LTE access to EPC, with creation of default and dedicated bearers with appropriate Quality of Service applied.
An end-to-end IMS Voice over LTE session was also successfully demonstrated,
Access to the EPC via a simulated eHRPD access was successfully tested.
Handover between LTE and eHRPD,
Roaming was successfully tested.
Though the essential standards are reasonably mature, the implementation of early versions of the standards within several of the available implementations of network nodes highlights the problems that can arise due to non-backwards compatibility between 3GPP releases. It is also clear that early implementations have focused initially on development of LTE access to EPC and that support for legacy access (2G/3G) to EPC is somewhat behind. Events such as the MSF LTE Interoperability event highlight these issues and prove the validity of the MSF approach to achieving multi-vendor interoperability.