Presenting in Hong Kong
At his desk at HQ in Munich, Germany
In Africa on holiday
Capturing desert scenes while traveling

Q&A with Günter Pfeifer

Market Segment Manager for Wireless Communications

After joining Rohde & Schwarz in 1997, Günter Pfeifer spent 18 years in the field of mobile communications as the product manager responsible for different Rohde & Schwarz radio communications testers. He is well versed in various technologies from GSM to LTE-A and spent much of his time on mobile broadband topics, which finally lead to his involvement in 5G technology management before joining the market segment organization. Günter holds a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Applied Sciences in Kempten, Germany.

We asked Günter a few questions about his experience with wireless communications and what excites him about this technology. Here's what he had to say:

How did you become involved in mobile phone technology?

The first time I was in touch with mobile phones was shortly after the official start of GSM in some European countries like Germany or Finland. At that time, I was a student at the Helsinki University of Technology where I was writing my diploma thesis. Many Finnish students on campus had mobile phones already – although those were still analogue NMT (Nordic Mobile Telephone system). I found it fascinating and wanted to learn more about this technology. A few years later, I was working with R&S in Munich HQ and started as a product manager for a sort of mobile communication technology known as POCSAG, which was used in paging systems. After another year, I was working on GSM and with this, the journey through all the different technology steps from 2G up to 5G started.

What is it about mobile phone technology that excites you?

Since the first days of being in touch with this technology or system, I found it amazing how we can make this work. Imagine you are on one end of the planet and I have no idea about this. I just dial your cell phone number and can talk to you, regardless of where you are or where I am. Isn’t this fascinating? How can the system connect us, regardless of where we are, what device or access technology we are using, etc.? Well, today I know how this works technically of course, but I still find it great that we could invent something like this and make it so simple to use for everybody. If I tell this to my kids they will not understand me since for them, it is simply a commodity. However, I grew up with and in the evolvement of this technology so I can still smile every time my phone rings.

What’s the biggest technology change you’ve witnessed over your career?

Well, every time a new technology step comes along in cellular I think, “Wow, this is crazy. How can we even think about something so complex and believe we can make it ever work?” Then time passes by and looking backwards, it feels like what seemed to be crazy complex now looks like a logical and “fairly simple” step forward. What I mean with this is that the biggest technology change I witnessed over the last decade or two was each of these technology changes. And I am sure there are more to come that will make me say again “Wow, this is crazy...”

How do you stay in the forefront of mobile phone technology?

For the small layer of the technology that I overlook I think it is constant learning. A lot of reading, many discussions with experts in the field. Listening to other presenters, leveraging on their learnings and experiences. So over all a big mix of many input sources. It is hard work, but it is also a lot of fun in an interesting and fast-moving topic like mobile phone technology. In my job, I don’t only need to know the technology, I also need to be able to explain it to others. And, for the explanation part, I believe it is helpful if you yourself had to go through that learning curve. This allows you to understand what kind of difficulty the other person could have understanding what you are trying to explain and to pick good examples explaining it.

What 5G-enabled innovations are you most excited about?

I believe 5G will enable many innovations that we cannot even think about today. Hence, this is a difficult-to-answer question. However, I am sure there will be many things coming up in the future – enabled through 5G – which I will be excited about.

You’ll make five stops across the US and Canada on your upcoming North American 5G seminar tour. Do you have any future seminars in other regions?

Yes, on this trip, we will have open seminars in Vancouver (BC), Seattle (WA), Columbia (MD) and Dallas (TX) plus one “private” one, so five stops in total. I did do similar seminars in Europe over the last couple of months in different countries and will have another one coming up early June in beautiful Italy. I am sure this will not be the last one, but currently it is the last one firmly planned.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like spending time with my family and friends. And I like traveling, although traveling a lot on business. Travelling with my family – I have two kids – to locations where I do not travel on business is fun. Two years ago, for example, we were in Africa, which was great - although there was next to zero cell phone coverage ;-) , and we will definitely go there another time again. If I am not travelling, I like to cook and BBQ at home with friends. This is very relaxing and enjoyable since I also like good food and wine.

Answer quickly! What time zone are you in right now?

That’s fairly easy at the moment since I am in my home time zone - CEST. But, next week I will be in 5 different time zones, more or less a different one every day. So don’t ask me that question next week… ;-)

To learn more about Günter's upcoming 5G NR tour, visit mobilewirelesstesting.com/events.