AttoCore’s EPC used in Chalke Valley’s local 4G network
Written by: Sam Fenwick | Published:
Part of Chalke Valley, taken during a history festival; credit: Flickread/Peter_Curb

AttoCore, a developer of “ultra-mobile” core network software is participating in the expansion of mobile and fixed broadband services in Chalke Valley, which is located in the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) on the southern border of Wiltshire.

The deep winding valley’s rural location and small, dispersed population makes it difficult for the large telecommunications companies to deliver mobile broadband and fixed wireline services. To address this, the local community created a Community Interest Company called CH4LKE Mobile, which is run by telecom industry veterans, to build and operate a local 4G network. The company determined that the best way to provide coverage was to deploy a multi-operator neutral host (MONeH) 4G access network mounted on buildings in each difficult to reach community with poor mobile coverage. CH4LKE Mobile decided to embed the local switching and management elements of its network within the edge mounted radio assets, thereby increasing performance and reliability while reducing backhaul requirements.

The company opted for AttoCore evolved packet core (EPC) software – AttoEPC – which, the supplier claims has a very small footprint, an attractive price, a history of successful deployment, and the ability to cost-effectively provide EPC services that can scale down to the requirement of the smallest rural communities. It can be download from an internet server and supports a flexible licensing model. This, so AttoCore says, makes it easy to embed it in small cells or other local network elements, enabling services to be deployed at the network edge. AttoEPC is 4G only, lacking any 2G, 3G or circuit-switched functionality, simplifying maintenance and improving reliability.

James Body, CH4LKE mobile technical architect said “After assessing and evaluating Evolved Packet Core products from a number of sources, we selected AttoCore as our local core provider partner. This proved to be an extremely good move as the quality of the technical support that we received from the AttoCore Team was truly excellent; without the flexibility and timely assistance offered we would not have been able to deploy a working network within our tight timescales.”

AttoCore also recently announced that its AttoEPC product is being used by Excelerate Technology as part of the latter’s mission critical communications solution for the emergency services.

Excelerate required a means of providing guaranteed LTE coverage at emergency sites, without relying upon the radio access networks of the commercial mobile network operators (MNOs). With access to LTE capable spectrum, Excelerate designed a portable Network In A Box solution, which could be deployed within a vehicle, transported to and operated at the site of an emergency, either within the vehicle, or carried and used outside it by an emergency responder. The Network In A Box combines the small cell expertise of cellXica ((a British company focused on cellular and custom communications markets through in-house development of software defined radio hardware, physical layers and protocol stack software) with AttoCore’s EPC solution.

AttoCore states that it has developed its AttoEPC software to be interoperable with a wide range of base stations (eNodeB) and user devices (UE). It also claims that the software has a very small footprint and the company undertakes continuous automated testing to ensure that it is implemented to a high level of quality. The software will be further developed in line with 3GPP releases and AttoCore is planning to add the mission-critical capabilities defined in 3GPP releases 12, 13, and 14.

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