UK wireless technology company Ranplan has claimed that its innovative technology will play a 'major role' in the ongoing global evolution of smart cities. The radio planning specialist is building a stellar reputation on a global basis - primarily because it has developed tools that plan both indoor and combined indoor and outdoor RF wireless networks. Telecom Review managed to secure an exclusive interview with Ranplan's charismatic CEO Alastair Williamson at CommunicAsia, Asia's premier ICT exhibition and conference held annually in Singapore to discuss the organization's future in the APAC region, its role within smart cities - and its objectives for the rest of 2017.
Williamson said the Asia Pacific region is an emerging market for Ranplan, and disclosed that they were experiencing an increasing number of customers who are now beginning to look at indoor and combined indoor/outdoor planning. Ranplan's CEO added that China is a market of particular importance for the company - and expressed his intentions to continue expansion plans in the country.
Williamson told Telecom Review: "Across Asia Pacific we're seeing a lot of customers beginning to look at indoor planning more seriously. So, it is without doubt an emerging market for us, offering a large number of business opportunities. We've built a sales team in APAC to increase the accessibility to our iBuildNet product suite in the region and also have about 22 people employed in China alone - focusing on major players such as China Mobile, China Telecom and Huawei. If you have a look around here at this event there are a huge number of companies looking to get into this particular market."
When pressed on how he envisages the role Ranplan will play in the continued global emergence of smart cities, Williamson emphatically declared that he predicts his organization will play a 'major role' in it. Ranplan's CEO said: "Smart Cities is a big, big topic and represents a very 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. 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."
In addition to this, Williamson highlighted projects in relation to smart cities that it has already carried out in Europe and the US. He also claimed that network connectivity will be the backbone for cities to implement smart city applications and that this will be a primary focus for Ranplan. He used a recent infrastructure project in New York City to reiterate his point.
Williamson said: "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. 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 them absolutely unique as no other company had the capabilities at the moment to do what the UK wireless technology company is currently offering customers.
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."
Williamson used the venue CommunicAsia was being held in to illustrate his point. 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. However, Williamson added: "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. So, 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 admitted that the company was investing a lot of its efforts into 5G - and confirmed that its propagation engine already supports 5G. Williamson said: "We've started to put a lot of work into 5G. The standards are emerging and our propagation engine runs up to about 60 GHz - so we can plan up into the millimeter wave space. 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."
When asked to disclose Ranplan's objectives for the rest of 2017 - the CEO expressed his desire to capitalize on work already done in global markets - and disclosed that a huge amount of effort was being focused on having a bigger impact in the US. In addition to this, he said the other target was to hit projected revenue numbers, which the company is on course to accomplish.
Williamson concluded by saying: "We are confident of hitting our revenue numbers forecast for 2017. . . I think the rest of 2017 for us is all about capitalizing on the work we've already done in 2016 building markets across the US, Europe and APAC. The potential market for indoor and outdoor radio planning is absolutely massive, so a lot of effort is going into positioning Ranplan while also getting ourselves 5G ready. So, I think we'll be looking to put announcements out towards the end of the year on what we're doing in relation to 5G - and also putting a lot of continued focus on smart cities and IoT and where we fit into that ecosystem. So you'll see us at a lot of conferences on IoT and smart cities."