Daniel Heredia peered across rooftops, surveying the derelict satellite dishes and rusty television antennas of Brownsville, Brooklyn. Wearing a motorcycle jacket and boots, he crouched on Andre Cambridge’s roof, trying to see if he had a clear line of sight to the Riverdale Avenue Community School a half-mile off. A large tree was possibly in the way.
Mr. Cambridge, a 28-year-old student who lives with his parents and younger brother in an apartment on the first floor, watched the scene apprehensively. He had been without internet for nine weeks. “Man,” Mr. Heredia said, “you should have told us.” He could have moved up the installation.
Mr. Heredia is a 19-year-old volunteer with NYC Mesh, a nonprofit community Wi-Fi initiative, and he was there to install a router that would bring inexpensive Wi-Fi to the building. Mr. Cambridge’s family said they had become fed up with the take-it-or-leave-it pricing for spotty service that internet providers seem to get away with in this part of Brooklyn.
Photographed for The New York Times with words by Bliss Broyard.
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NYC Mesh, a band of a few dozen tech volunteers, takes on Verizon and the big âÂ€Âœincumbent providers,âÂ€Â with the promise of inexpensive community internet.