Network connectivity is the backbone of smart cities, says Ranplan CEO

UK wireless technology firm Ranplan claims its innovative technology will play a “major role” in the ongoing global evolution of smart cities, and that network connectivity is the backbone, says CEO Alistair Williamson. The radio planning specialist is building a strong reputation based on developed tools that plan both indoor and combined indoor and outdoor RF wireless networks.

“Smart Cities is a big topic and represents a large business opportunity. We’ve seen a lot of people approaching us to have a look at what we can do to support them, which is really interesting,” said Williamson. “Traditionally, as a vendor, we are out there chasing the market; instead we’re seeing the market coming to us looking for solutions, which is really positive.”

Ranplan has carried out a number of successful projects in relation to smart cities in Europe and the US.  Williamson claims network connectivity will be the backbone for cities to implement smart city applications and that this will be a primary focus for Ranplan. He referred to a recent infrastructure project in New York City.

“We’ve done a lot of work on smart cities, not just in the US, but also in Europe, in terms of helping local councils, cities and also large operators to plan what a smart city should look like and looking at getting backbone networks into place,” said Williamson. “We’re laying down the foundations for smart cities.”

“If you look at New York, they’re erecting over 7,500 wireless access points in Manhattan, which is absolutely massive. As well as delivering free public Wi-Fi, we are helping to provide the backbone for smart city applications. So it’s hugely important for us, and I’d suggest a primary focus, for Ranplan for the rest of 2017 and beyond.”

Ranplan has tools to plan indoor and outdoor networks in coordination, and according to Williamson, this makes the company unique as no other company has the same offerings.

Williamson said: “There are not many companies that have the tools to plan indoor networks, whether they’re DAS, small cells or Wi-Fi, but where we come from is actually looking at how to plan indoor and outdoor networks in coordination, which is particularly important.”

Referencing the CommunicAsia venue in Singapore where Williamson spoke to Active Telecoms, he pointed out that there’s a macro environment outside that will provide penetration from that macro environment into the building, and you could build an indoor DAS network inside the venue.

However, he stressed that what you need to do is actually coordinate the planning of that indoor network to ensure that you’re not creating interference with the outdoor network. 

“What we’ve found is that a lot of customers have approached us and told us they want to put an indoor network into a hotel or into an office building, for example. However, they have KPI’s that state that they don’t want any leakage from the indoor network into the outdoor network,” said Williamson.

“That’s where our tools come into play, because we can coordinate the indoor and outdoor networks when it comes to planning. That’s currently totally unique and nobody at the moment is actually doing that apart from us.”

Williamson said Ranplan is also investing its efforts into 5G, and confirmed that its propagation engine already supports 5G. “We’ve started to put a lot of work into 5G. The standards are emerging and our propagation engine runs up to about 60GHz, so we can plan up into the millimeter wave space,” he said.

“We’re doing a lot of work ensuring the tool will actually allow people to go out and plan for 5G networks, which are going to be inherently a lot more complex than 4G networks today. As our propagation engine supports 5G, we’re already there, but we’re looking for the vendors to come up with devices and components before we can go out and plan 5G networks.”