Last week, I passed on the mantle of Chairman of the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) to Bill Warga, Vice Present of Technology for Liberty Global. For the past two years, I’ve been honored to guide an organization that helps our industry harness innovative technologies to deliver real benefits to millions of people around the world. 

Walking the exhibition floor at SCTE Expo last week in Denver, you would have seen the latest model of a utility truck parked right next to a demonstration of next-generation virtualization software. By combining cutting-edge software innovation with the gritty, physical work of building networks, SCTE plays a unique role in advancing the future of connectivity. 

Speaking at our annual Awards Luncheon this year, Dave Watson, President and CEO of Comcast Cable, spoke about the technological innovations that are driving our industry forward to a new era of amazing customer experiences. In particular, he highlighted artificial intelligence, which we’re using today to power our award-winning voice remote, and deliver more seamless, intuitive experiences to customers. 

But as Dave noted, as powerful a tool as AI is today, the potential is nearly limitless, particularly in its capacity to transform the customer experience. His remarks were mirrored throughout Expo, where technologists from across the industry showed off the latest machine learning and AI technologies and how they are helping create the networks of the future.

While there’s too much at Expo to summarize I had a few key takeaways from this year’s event. 

Network evolution is accelerating – One of the most widely attended workshops at this year’s event focused on Remote PHY, a new generation of digital access nodes that provide unprecedented performance and visibility to network operators. These technologies carry the potential to make faster, better, more reliable networks. We’re already testing Remote PHY and related advancements and are excited about where they go next. 

The gigabit era is here – DOCSIS 3.1, the technology we use to deliver gigabit Internet speeds over the connections already in customers’ homes, was a key focus of this year’s conference. The technology is being quickly deployed worldwide, even as technologists work in parallel developing the next generation of the technology – Full Duplex DOCSIS – which will enable even faster speeds. 

Staying ahead means finding (and keeping) the best talent – In a fireside chat I had with Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty Global at EXPO, he highlighted the importance of attracting and retaining elite technology talent. I couldn’t agree with him more. Our industry has a tremendous vision for the future, but that vision won’t become a reality without world-class technologists making it happen. Thankfully, the breadth and depth of our talent was on full display last week. There are too many people to mention them all, but I was particularly pleased to see Ed Marchetti, Senior Vice President of Technical Operations, be honored as the SCTE∙ISBE Member of the Year, and I was proud to recognize Martha Soehren Chief Talent Development Officer and Senior Vice President of Comcast University, with my last Chairman’s Award for her amazing work in advancing professional development in our industry.