Committee speaks with telecommunications chair

Penn State’s?Sascha Meinrath guest speaker

LEWISTOWN–Sascha Meinrath, Palmer Chair in telecommunications at Penn State University, spoke with the Mifflin County Internet Advisory Committee in regards to his work and internet advocacy, Wednesday afternoon, at the Mifflin County Courthouse.

An internet freedom activist, Meinrath’s work has spanned over several decades as he has developed various technologies and collaborated with government officials at the local, state and federal levels in order to address internet issues throughout the nation. Currently, he is working on a broadband study within the commonwealth, which is funded by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. Meinrath noted that he is focused on progressing into the future by creating low-cost, wireless networks that provide improved access for communities.

“We can’t have a 21st century economy with a 20th century communications infrastructure,” Meinrath said.

Bill Gomes, director of Mifflin County Planning and Development, told Meinrath that internet service is available throughout Mifflin County, but the committee found that most residents are dissatisfied with their internet speed and capability. Clint Aurand, of Armagh Township, also noted, “Just because you have, doesn’t mean you have as much as you want.”

Meinrath stated that in order to resolve local internet issues, public investment is necessary in the same way that it is essential for other public resources such as electricity and water. Additionally, he stated that the lack of broadband access and strong internet service negatively impacts local economy and ultimately leads to other “detrimental” issues within communities.

“The United States government has labeled internet connectivity as a critical infrastructure,” Meinrath said. “If that’s good enough for the government agencies, why isn’t that good enough for us? Why can’t we treat it as the critical infrastructure for everyone that we already declared it to be?”

Meinrath later added, “[Connectivity] has gone from a luxury good 20 years ago to absolutely essential today. And politicans are just beginning to grasp that.”

In other business, the committee:

¯Approved the meeting minutes from the November and December meetings.

¯Discussed updates on a contract with Noovis.

The Mifflin County Internet Advisory Committee meets at 3:30 p.m. at the end of each month at the Mifflin County Courthouse.

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