People story

6G: from rowing and awards to an unbeatable team

Innovation meets bright minds – an introduction to three of our colleagues, who all work at Rohde & Schwarz as technology managers. They've been working on everything to do with 4G, 5G and 6G technology for many years. So how do they see their job and what does the future hold?

Meik Kottkamp

4 questions for Meik, our rowing enthusiast and wireless communications specialist

As a wireless technology manager, what challenges do you see with 6G?

I associate the previous generations of wireless communications with different periods of my own life: when 2G arrived, I was around 20. And so, when 3G, 4G and finally 5G were introduced, I was 30, 40 and 50 respectively. I’m looking forward to reaching 60 when 6G will enter the market – if it’s rolled out in 2030 when everyone is expecting. Every generation poses technical challenges, but I think the biggest challenge with the next generation will be ensuring that we can use these expanded communications channels safely and rely on them in every sense.

There’s a great photo of you on your rowing machine in your home office. How could 6G change that?

Merging communications and real and virtual worlds are technological cornerstones of 6G. I can imagine rowing on a real lake and sharing the experience – and the surroundings – live with my friends.

Meik on a rowing machine in his home office

Describe our lives with 6G in three adjectives.

Better, faster and further are of course the three commonly used adjectives to describe each advancement. And naturally, the performance of cellular wireless systems will also improve as the next generations arrive. But I think 6G brings new challenges into focus, so I would describe our lives with 6G as interconnected, merged and sustainable.

Looking to the future... What do you think will be the most exciting innovation made possible by 6G?

From an end-user perspective – so referring primarily to smartphone users – I think it’ll be the possibilities surrounding augmented reality and gesture control. It’ll also be exciting to see to what extent environment information can be used to optimize data transmission. Not to mention all the developments that will emerge almost at random but change all of our lives. Who thought in the 90s that sending fewer characters per text message would turn SMS into a global success story? The future remains exciting and I’m looking forward to playing a small role in shaping it every day.

Reiner Stuhlfauth

4 questions for Reiner, our webinar enthusiast

You’ve been with Rohde & Schwarz for more than 22 years – first as a trainer and now as a technology manager – is there any particular challenge that comes to mind that you had to overcome?

When I started as a trainer, I remember asking myself: "What do I do if someone asks me a question that I can't answer on the spot?" My mentor at the time advised me to be honest and say: "Sorry, I don’t know but I’ll get back to you with an answer". Because that's precisely why we have such a high level of expertise at Rohde & Schwarz: there's always a team member who can help me.

On our intranet, your colleague Jeremy has labelled you as a webinar enthusiast and even presented you with an award. Why?

A huge number of people took part in my 2021 webinar on 5G connectivity for vehicles, and the accompanying white paper was downloaded thousands of times. This showed us that both the wider public and our customers are hugely interested in 5G for the automotive sector, which is why we’re now planning further activities and events in this field.

Webinar enthusiast Reiner (left) was presented with an award by colleague Jeremy (right)

How many webinars have you given on 5G and 6G?

... A lot. Over the past two years, probably about 10, mainly on 5G. Being in the public eye is incredibly important for me. In the past, I went on seminar tours around the world for Rohde & Schwarz, for example in North America. It was a great time that I remember fondly and something that I would very much like to continue once the pandemic is over.

Looking to the future... How far away is 8G? Who or what will be communicating with each other?

Our ability to communicate is what makes humans unique. That's why I’m convinced that people will always be the focus – even with 8G – and that only how we communicate with each other will change. When will we reach 8G? I think around 2050, but to be honest, it's incredibly hard to predict the future...

Taro Eichler

4 questions for Taro, our Asia specialist

You, Meik and Reiner are a team: what makes you so unbeatable?

We’re all experts in wireless communications but each of us has a specialist area, which means we complement each other incredibly well. On top of his technical expertise, Reiner is also an expert at delivering webinars and leading workshops. Meik has huge amounts of experience in standardization and specializes in 5G for Industry 4.0 and Europe, particularly Northern Europe. And as for me, I spent 10 years researching in the field of quantum optics, which is the reason I’m extremely interested in the possibilities that new photonic technologies present for 6G. But I also worked in Japan for 6 years which is why my focus is on Asia.

You attended the IEEE Globecom Conference in Madrid in December 2021. You’ve brought an interesting picture with you. What does it show?

It was taken during a demonstration of a channel measurement at 300 gigahertz. What's special about it is that we performed this demonstration live at our Rohde & Schwarz booth, which meant, for example, you could see how people moving around affected the radio channel. And the small spike you can see on the monitor is the signal reflecting off the wall. We were the only ones demonstrating something like that and we received a lot of great feedback at the conference.

Demonstration of a channel measurement at 300 gigahertz

Several groups of students have already visited the campus in Munich and listened to your lectures. How important is inspiring young talent in the job of a technology manager?

It's essential! That’s why academic or mixed academic-industry events – like the conference in Madrid – are so important to me. This is of course also true for trade fairs, which are typically dominated by industry. Getting young people interested in the innovations at Rohde & Schwarz is hugely enjoyable. After all, if we want to advance autonomous driving and extended reality, we need motivated young talent eager to put their ideas into practice and drive innovation forward together.

Looking to the future... What will be the first 6G capable device in your house?

Most likely my phone. But I also play the violin in an orchestra, so I’ll be interested to see what the future holds and whether we can play music together virtually with acceptable quality. Though the pandemic has certainly shown us you can’t replace meeting in person...