With up to 80% of data traffic already being consumed indoors, Ranplan has launched iBuildNet and iBuildNet-Fi for in-building wireless network design, simulation, optimisation and deployment at the WBA Wi-Fi Global Congress in London, UK on 12 June 2013.
The new Ranplan tools revolutionise the design of 2G/3G/4G(LTE) and Wi-Fi networks, along with TETRA and PMR systems for single buildings such as hotels, offices and shopping centres, as well as combined indoor-outdoor facilities including campuses, CBDs (central business districts), stadiums, airports and stations, according to the company.
With powerful 3D modelling, advanced algorithms and highly-automated processes, Ranplan delivers a 50% increase in productivity for system integrators compared with using currently available tools and typical CAPEX/OPEX savings for operators of 20-30%.
iBuildNet for indoor installations
RF planning for indoor installations is far more complex than outdoor deployments and has to take into account issues such as signal distribution throughout complex building structures made of different materials and possible interference from outdoor cells.
With fast and accurate 3D modelling and signal coverage prediction techniques, iBuildNet can be used to design and simulate a wide range of wireless networks from microcells, repeaters and distributed antenna system to heterogeneous networks with femtocells and Wi-Fi. It also supports passive, active and hybrid signal distribution as well as multi-standard and frequency band solutions.
Professor Jie Zhang, Principal Consultant at Ranplan and Chair in Wireless Systems at the University of Sheffield, told Wireless: ‘We build 3D RF models from building CAD files and iBuildNet automatically selects the best sites for the access points (APs), how many APs are needed, their transmitting power and the best type of antenna, omnidirectional or directional, for the space.’
Ranplan’s toolset includes the ability to automatically assign channels for up to 10,000 APs, the coverage level and works out the necessary interference mitigation both between the new APs going in, but other existing radio sites in the local environment.
Zhang describes it as ‘intelligent prevention’ via radio prediction tests via measuring capabilities built into the tools. ‘We can collect live measurements at the scene by reading the SSIDs for each AP, the channel it is using and the power output. The system works out the best positions, channels, power and antenna needed to provide coverage in the building and to mitigate any interference.’
The system also uses SINR (signal to interference-plus-noise ratio) to work out the predicted throughput (including working out the effects on signals of types of building material) once the building or site is occupied. This allows the RF designer or system installer to ensure that everyone gets a good throughput on their device.
Ranplan’s iBuildNet-Fi is a carrier grade Wi-Fi network planning and optimisation tool designed especially for high-capacity, combined indoor/outdoor venues. It features advanced 3D modelling techniques; automatic allocation for Access Point (AP) sites, Tx power and channel for Wi-Fi networks with thousands of APs; intelligent interference control; throughput distribution and capacity analysis; along with joint Wi-Fi and LTE network deployment.
‘In the 2G era, operators have traditionally designed networks using outdoor cellsites to penetrate into buildings, believing this to be more cost effective than installing separate, independent indoor systems,’ said Zhang.
‘But as we move to higher frequency bands with 3G and 4G, penetrating walls becomes more difficult, while at the same time the volume of indoor traffic is predicted to grow exponentially. This means that in-building solutions become more important, to serve high bit rate services and reuse spectrum, particularly for high capacity venues.
‘iBuildNet and iBuildNet-Fi represent a new generation of highly-automated tools to deliver optimised in-building networks with advanced 3D building modelling, intelligent algorithms for cell location, antenna and channel optimisation and the ability to work alongside small cell SON (Self Organising Networks) technology,’ said Zhang.
The Ranplan tools can be used to assess where problems may arise such as handover failures due to signal leakage from in-building systems; and where antennas and trunking are hidden inside ceilings, below floors or other less accessible places, the design can be validated before installation to avoid costly modifications.
Ranplan tools also co-ordinate between indoor and outdoor environments such as campuses, stadiums and airports with high resolution – typically within 20 cubic centimetres – along with interference analysis and control, user throughput and network capacity analysis, as well as optimisation for 2G, 3G and LTE.
Zhang said: ‘Our products are aimed a system integrators and mobile operators. Operators can use our tools to verify their designs and to check the performance of existing deployments to optimise their performance.’
He added that Ranplan’s key differentiators are its strength in 3D modelling and the huge amount of automation it has brought to network design.
For the time being, Ranplan is concentrating its sales and marketing efforts on China and Europe to start with.