Picture a spiderweb of wireless connections. The main signal originates from what's called the Supernode. It's a direct plugin to the internet, via an internet exchange point — the same place Internet Service Providers get their connection. The signal from the supernode, sent out wirelessly via an antenna, covers an area of several kilometres. From there, a mesh of smaller antennas spread out on rooftops or balconies receive that signal. They're connected to Wi-Fi access points that allow people to use the internet. […]
"Mesh networks are an alternative to standard ISP hookups. You're not provided with an internet connection through their cable, but through — in our case —Wi-Fi networks," says Jason Howard, a programmer and actor who's helping with the latest installation. […] Zach Giles is one of the brains behind the network and one its busiest volunteers. When he's not working his day job in finance, he's maintaining the supernode. The rooftop has become his second office.
He's a mesh network evangelist who says most people don't realize they don't need to rely on traditional ISPs to get online. "That's the myth of the ISP," Giles says in between installing another antenna.