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Alistair Williamson, CEO of UK-based firm Ranplan which specializes in developing tools that plan both indoor and combined indoor and outdoor RF (radio frequency) wireless networks, says there's been a "shift from just the traditional exhibitors to new and emerging technology companies" participating at Mobile World Congress.

This year, he said, speaking to Telecom Review, large operators, vendors, and system integrators are now also focusing their attention on emerging companies like Ranplan that have "real innovative and commercially advantageous product portfolios" to meet their specific requirements.

"What's interesting is that we've seen a lot of large operators coming to visit us this year, which I think is because they're looking for new innovation," said Mr. Williamson. "They're looking for products that will differentiate them in the market. There's a lot of support from the larger operators who are now investing time with us to ensure that we develop more solutions that exactly fit their requirements."

Because of this, large operators, vendors, and system integrators are seeking out emerging companies like Ranplan to meet their specific technology requirements. Ranplan's rationale for showcasing at an expensive event like MWC is to meet those companies and show them how Ranplan can cater to their needs. It's no secret that vendors are trying to cut costs, Mr. Williamson explained, and for that reason, they are looking to Ranplan for tools that provide operational efficiency.

"If you plan and optimize your network effectively you can deliver the most efficient network possible at the lowest cost," said Mr. Williamson. "This is exactly what we do for operators and vendors who come to us."

The demand for Ranplan's solutions is increasing among vendors, according to Mr. Williamson. One of the key features of Ranplan's solutions that are driving this growth is the coordinated indoor/outdoor network planning capability.

Ranplan's offering branded iBuildNet, is a suite of planning and optimization tools. It offers a feature-rich solution combined with ease of use and has the unique ability to model indoor and outdoor environments in coordination. It's a cost-effective and flexible, all-in-one solution that includes 3D modeling, along with powerful data analysis to automatically optimize AP locations, antenna type, and power and channel assignment.

"In planning an indoor network, you need to ensure the building structure is created as accurately as possible," said Mr. Williamson. "Our tool enables users to rapidly create accurate 3D buildings and model the surrounding outdoor environment."

Another area which has been vital to Ranplan's success is its research capability. An example of this is Ranplan's unique fast and accurate 3-D ray-tracing propagation engine. Traditional planners use single rays to propagate and simulate an RF signal. Ranplan uses a 3D ray-tracing algorithm that tracks rays in multiple directions and collects those rays as they transmit.

On a commercial front, Ranplan is a small company with a limited reach, so its strategy is to appoint resellers that are aligned with key customers and allow those resellers to take Ranplan to market, Mr. Williamson explained. The company has experienced recent success with large mobile operators in Latin America, the Middle East and Europe.

Other growing markets for Ranplan are in "public safety, outdoor Wi-Fi, smart cities and emerging IoT deployments," said Mr. Williamson. "We're doing a lot of work related to 5G. It's complex and very demanding and standards are still emerging, however our tools can support propagation and simulation analysis on 5G networks today."