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#6: Fiber planning – Making better business decisions due to automation with Raf Meersman

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WHO IS Raf Meersman?

Raf Meersman, CEO at Comsof.

Raf started his career over 20 years ago as a programmer and was there from the early beginnings of Comsof, when it started as a fiber planning software company. Comsof is the world leader in creating intelligent network planning and design software. Raf has a background in Electrotechnical Engineering with a focus on telecommunications. His first fiber planning project was 2008 in New Zealand. After proving himself and enhancing the software features of Comsof, he got an offer for ownership and took first the role as CTO followed by becoming Comsof´s CEO. 


In this episode, Raf will describe the journey from the early stages of fiber planning. When they started developing the Comsof solutions it was unheard of to use GIS data to perform actually fiber planning in an automated capacity. “Back in the days” the process was completely manual and drawn upon maps. 
Raf and his team revolutionized this process and nowadays the solution is for example used to nearly fully automated plan 50 million homes-passed in India at the project with Reliance JIO.
Raf and his team are not stopping there, their BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) as a company is to have 1 Billion people worldwide having a network connection designed with Comsof by 2030. If this is not an ambitious goal, then what is?

Besides being a CEO, Raf is also actively helping the fiber optics community in Europe by being a board member at the FTTH Council (link below) and also working in several working groups there.


Building and planning a valuable fiber-optic network is no small feat. Raf is confirming in this episode of the Become Fiberminded podcast, that choosing to save time and money in the design process is one of the worst ideas possible. But actually, how can you actually make smarter business decisions and let the planners focus on things that matter? Automation is the key. However, this automation is near useless without input data, which is all digital. One way to get better input data for fiber planning is the usage of LIDAR ( Light Detection and Ranging), which allows for auto data cleaning. Raf mentioned in this episode, that with LIDAR they are able to differentiate the ground if it’s either cobblestone or sand automatically, which makes a big difference in the overall built-out cost and also bill of material. Now imagine you could feed all this data into your fiber planning tool to get the best cost-optimized solution. Maybe it makes sense to go above ground in 30% of the network like Ryan Coates mentioned in Episode 5?
Or the planner wants to play out different scenarios? This is what Raf is explaining to us in this episode.
Additionally, he is also highlighting, how you can ensure high-quality decisions in time-sensitive activities, which are key for successful fiber deployments.


Here are the URLs mentioned in this episode.

Here are social media links to Raf:

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If you are actively helping the fiber optics community to solve problems and enable a faster and better connection for everyone and would like to share this with the world, I’d love to have you on my podcast.

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