Continuing the breakdown of our annual Microwaves & RF Salary & Career Report, this fourth part of the series dives into the topic of new technologies. In particular, what did our respondents have to say about the likes of 5G and autonomous vehicles? Read on to find out.
There’s no question that 5G is receiving tons of attention—and for good reason, as many believe it will be revolutionary. About 31% of respondents said their company is engaged in some capacity with 5G wireless technology. This involvement ranges from test solutions to monolithic-microwave-integrated-circuit (MMIC) development and much more.
However, it also appears that not everyone is buying into the 5G craze—only about 53% of respondents believe that it will actually live up to the hype. Nonetheless, approximately 73% of respondents do believe that we need 5G communications. One respondent said, “More and more data bandwidth will be needed for personal and commercial use, especially with Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity opportunities on the rise. Lots of rural areas still have few options for high-speed internet.”
On the other hand, some believe that what we need and what we want are two different things. Regarding 5G, one respondent stated, “It would/will be a convenient upgrade in terms of speed and coverage. However, we definitely do not NEED anything of the sort. Our current systems adequately serve our needs for communication.” And another said, “Current technologies are more than capable of providing the wireless connectivity that we need—it could be deployed more effectively. What people want is a different matter entirely.”
Some respondents offered up other interesting perspectives. One remarked, “People already communicate almost exclusively with their phones. 5G may be good for self-driving vehicles and automating other tasks, but at what human cost?” Another pondered, “I'm actually torn because I think as a society we are too drawn into the always-on/always-connected mantra at a detriment to actually connecting live with real people. I wonder sometimes if this is really good for society. However, I think that our appetite for data is only increasing. So, for this reason, we will need 5G to keep up with this demand.”
In addition, about 42% of respondents believe that 5G will change the RF/microwave industry, while about 16% think the opposite. The rest weren’t sure. One respondent stated, “5G will change the RF/microwave industry by forcing higher-volume development in new higher-frequency bands. This will bring down the costs associated with building systems in these bands, allowing innovative developments to ride the coattails of 5G due to the economies of scale.” And according to another respondent, “5G is changing everything in the industry from top to bottom. Chances are high that new companies will be born, and some existing companies will fail to adapt to the changes and lose their market position. The RF test-and-measurement industry is seeing the upheaval alongside the chip and radio vendors.”
Autonomous vehicles certainly represent another one of today’s top talking points when it comes to new technology. And while only about 20% of respondents reported that their company is involved in developing technology for autonomous vehicles, many have interesting thoughts on this topic. One respondent said, “Autonomous vehicles are neat, but the implementation process will be long and arduous. Fully autonomous vehicles work best in a perfect world. But our world is very imperfect, making things very difficult for autonomous-vehicle engineers and designers.”
Another respondent commented, “Autonomous vehicles could potentially represent a wonderful system that greatly reduces injuries and deaths due to crashes. However, I believe we are a long way out before the technology will be ready to be implemented on a large scale. On another note, I believe that there should never be a 100% autonomous vehicle. There should always be the option for the human to take control of the vehicle if they notice something that the autonomous vehicle does not.”
Stay tuned for our next and last Salary Survey installment on engineering culture.