Watson: AI, Machine Learning Will Be Disruptive Forces

DENVER — Comcast Cable president and CEO Dave Watson tagged artificial intelligence and machine learning as a next big area of focus, especially to mine device and network data in ways that improve customer care.

“We just hosted an AI demo day [in Philadelphia, it’s incredible … if there’s ever an industry that’s primed and could benefit from taking data and making it available to agents and customers, it’s ours. I think it’s really going to change the customer experience, profoundly.”

Watson spoke at a Cable-Tec Expo luncheon panel here last week, with Arris CEO Bruce McClelland and Multichannel News technology editor Jeff Baumgartner. Major themes: Gigabit services, WiFi resilience and mobile 5G.

McClelland, who subscribes to Comcast’s Gigabit service in the Atlanta area, described it as “really responsive and pretty addictive.”

As for what services will warrant that much raw throughput: “The last thing I’m worried about is whether we’re going to consume all the bandwidth — I think we are,” in part because of advancements in virtual reality, augmented reality, 4K/HDR video and the Internet of Things.

Watson also emphasized Comcast’s wireless intentions, both mobile and WiFi.

“By 2020, there’s going to be something like 50 devices hanging off of the WiFi, so it better be good,” he said. To address in-home coverage, he referenced Comcast’s investment in Palo Alto, Calif.-based Plume, which makes WiFi “pod-” styled extenders that will essentially create a mesh network in the home.”