Sascha Meinrath

Research Director, Wireless Future Program, New America Foundation

The Battle for Communications Justice: An Open Spectrum Manifesto
18 minutes, 8.5mb, recorded 2009-10-30
Sascha Meinrath

At the 2009 Emerging Communications Conference, Sascha Meinrath presents the solvency of the major problem behind broadband access: cost. In an effort to increase the number of consumers who readily use the Internet, Meinrath suggests a system of bandwidth that is provided by advertisers and application sources. Rather than people paying for all online costs for access to information, free delivery models in which corporations pay to send data to consumers are likely to emerge in the future.

Meinrath describes the future of apps in this models in three broad sections: green apps, which are free and do not impact consumers' data plans; yellow apps, in which some portion of the megabytes are free; and red apps, which are what the Internet consists of today: content providers do not pay to send the data to consumers.

Not only can content providers more strategically advertise and provide access to their content, the entrance costs for first-time Internet users are lowered. Though he lists several benefits for the content providers, market, and consumers already online, Meinrath also stresses the growth of accessibility; having millions more people regularly online, he says, will help drive and better the online world.

Sascha Meinrath has been described as a "community Internet pioneer" and an "entrepreneurial visionary" and is a well-known expert on community wireless networks and municipal broadband. In 2007, Sascha joined the New America Foundation as Research Director for their Wireless Future Program. Sascha also coordinates the Open Source Wireless Coalition, a global partnership of open source wireless integrators, researchers, implementors and companies dedicated to the development of open source, interoperable, low-cost wireless technologies.

Sascha is the co-founder and president of the CUWiN Foundation, one of the world's leading open-source wireless projects. In 2006, Sascha was elected vice president of CTCNet, a US-based network of more than 1000 organizations united in their commitment to improve the educational, economic, cultural and political life of their communities through technology. Sascha also founded the Ethos Group a telecommunications consulting firm focusing on the community benefits of wireless technologies.

From 2004-2006, Sascha worked as a policy analyst for Free Press a DC-based think tank and continues to regularly brief Federal Communications Commission and Congressional staff on issues related to wireless and broadband networking. Leading news sources, including the Economist, the New York Times, the Nation, and National Public Radio, often cite Sascha's work in covering issues related to CWNs. In 2006, Sascha left Free Press to consult with the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA) on the COMMONS Project, an initiative to interlink municipal and community wireless networks utilizing national fiber infrastructure.

In 2004, Sascha organized the first National Summit for Community Wireless Networks, helping to launch what has now become known as the Community/Municipal Wireless Networking Movement. In 2005-2006, Sascha coordinated the Community Wireless Emergency Response Initiative, helping rebuild essential telecommunications infrastructure during post-Hurricane Katrina disaster recovery. Sascha is a regular contributor to Government Technology's Digital Communities, the online portal and comprehensive information resource for the public sector.

Sascha completed his undergraduate degree at Yale University and his Master's degree in Psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His background is in quantitative statistics and research methodology. He is a Telecommunications Fellow at the University of Illinois in the Institute for Communications Research, where he is finishing his PhD. Sascha's research focuses on community empowerment and the impacts and interactions of participatory media, wireless communications, and emergent technologies.

As a community organizer, Sascha has overseen logistical support for numerous media projects worldwide, often working closely with people in many of the world's political hot spots during his role as Treasurer for the Global Indymedia Network. Sascha is the co-founder and Treasurer Emeritus of the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center Foundation and created many of the groups and projects that are its hallmarks today. In addition, he is a co-founder of the Tactical Media Fund, a non-profit organization that engages in strategic funding disbursements to grassroots media producers; and he is the President of the Acorn Active Media Foundation, which engages in open source software, website, and technical development in support of the Global Justice Movement. Over the years, Sascha has also worked as a project manager for several software development companies. Sascha served two terms on the Board of Directors of the Champaign, Illinois local community radio station, WEFT 90.1 FM and was active with the initiative to build a Low-Power FM radio station, WRFU 104.5 LPFM -- Radio Free Urbana.


This free podcast is from our Emerging Communications series.

For The Conversations Network: