The Athens platform is an advanced large-scale experimental facility for 5G SA networks located in two different locations in Athens, namely the Cosmote/OTE Academy campus and the NCSR Demokritos campus, which are interconnected with a dedicated 10G dark fiber. The network at the NCSR Demokritos campus includes two radio access networks connected to different 5G cores, enabling research in inter-PLMN handover and roaming scenarios. The platform also features a satellite/NTN-emulator that allows for multi-operator and multi-access scenarios with low cost and agility. ATSSS enables efficient use of multiple RATs in a multi-connectivity scenario, and MPTCP is used to combine multiple network paths in a single TCP connection, potentially improving QoS for users with hybrid access.
The key assets in the current infrastructure
- Automated experimentation: NCSRD has coordinated the ICT-17 5GENESIS project, which has developed the first 5G experimentation facilities across Europe that support fully automated execution of 5G Experimentation, using the Open5GENESIS experimentation framework.
- SA/NSA 5G Infrastructure: NCSRD is offering a fully operational 5G system, coupled with different 5G Core technologies and MEC capabilities that has supported the execution of various vertical trials and experiments, such as 5G-enabled drones and first responders. Also, beyond the commercial 5G UEs that we have available, we offer a variety of 5G UEs, ranging from programmable ones to 5G CPEs with WiFi6 support.
- 5G/B5G Network Programmability: The first 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Network Exposure Function (NEF) Emulator has been developed to support SMEs on 5G programmability. The NEF Emulator implements the standardized NEF APIs in a configurable emulated environment, where the user can define specific simulation environments. Such specifications include the number and type of user devices and the position of gNBs.
- Network Slicing: The Network slicing capabilities are provided by KATANA network slice solution, a centralized software component that provides an interface for creating, modifying, monitoring, and deleting slices.
- Deployment at NCSRD campus for fully controlled experimentation
- Deployment at COSMOTE premises for real industrial scenarios
- FDD and TDD bands in sub-6GHz are supported
- Satellite emulator can emulate a complete DVB-RCS2 – DVB-S2 system with mesh and star configuration schemes, multispot and multi-gateway topologies, and IPv4, IPv6, and Ethernet connectivity. It offers configuration and monitoring tools for evaluating emulated scenario performance and can interconnect with real equipment and applications.
- ATHONET for 4G/5G Core Network
- NOKIA and Ericsson RAN for cellular connectivity supporting sub-6 GHz for 4G LTE and 700 MHz and 3.5 GHz for 5G NR (with up to 100 MHz bandwidth), respectively
- Equipment to create SIM cards
- AMARISOFT and Open5GS for 5G Core
- AMARISOFT and Ericsson RAN for 5G connectivity operating below 6GHz with up to 50 MHz bandwidth
Services currently offered by the infrastructure
- Testing application in the devices wrt external services
- Testing full services with virtualization and slicing in an end-to-end 4G/5G environment
- Automation of experiments with local and remote access
- Support for multidisciplinary research, with special support for connected cars and PPDR, but open to any vertical or multidisciplinary research
6G-SANDBOX extensions and new features
The Athens Site will be enhanced with all the software components developed in 6G-SANDBOX to create the trial networks and network digital twins (i.e., the components that will be hosted in the 6G Library) and will integrate 6G components at the physical infrastructure layer that are related to:
- 3GPP NEF emulator, enabling 5G programmability
- CI/CD tools provision for productive 5G programmability and vertical apps development
- ERICSSON SA 5G system with LBO and NEF capabilities
- NTN based EDGE and dual-connectivity access, by integrating OpenSAND emulator
- Featured to support AI-driven management, intelligent IoT-edge, extended reality and haptic communications