There's life yet in the failed Pacific Fibre project, if Kim Dotcom has anything to do with it (and if anyone can do it, he can).
"I will relaunch Pacific Fibre. Free broadband for all Kiwi's (sic)," he tweeted on Friday.
Pacific Fibre's bid to build a high-speed fibre-optic undersea cable connecting New Zealand and California was shut down in August after failing to pull together the required $400 million of funding.
Dotcom has two new services in the works, a music service called Megabox and a cloud storage service called Me.ga. He would set up a data centre in New Zealand to host Me.ga, which he says could help fund a cable project.
It would charge businesses and government for broadband access but provide free consumer access, though ISPs would still charge a fee to customers (which he told the Herald on Sunday would be as low as a fifth of current bandwidth plans and three to five times faster with no transfer limits).
"One way or another New Zealand needs Pacific Fibre. I think it is important to reboot efforts to make it happen," he said on Twitter.
"For every foreign user downloading from NZ (paid) a Kiwi can download from outside NZ (free). The key: Storing data foreign users want in NZ.
"Traffic to foreign users pays for Pacific Fibre & maintenance. That's how Me.ga hosted in NZ makes free bandwidth for Kiwi's (sic) possible."
Me.ga follows on from Megaupload, Dotcom's previous company that was shut down by authorities earlier this year.
"To avoid ending up in another copyright scandal with the new Mega, Dotcom plans to offer a service that encrypts all uploaded files before they get to Mega’s servers. Only the user who uploaded the files will have the decryption key and be able to unscramble the data. So even if Mega had infringing material on its servers, the thinking goes, the company would not be responsible for infringement since it cannot tell what content is on its servers at any given time. The company has not yet said what kind of encryption the new site will be using."
Reaction: Cautiously optimistic
On Twitter, Pacific Fibre cofounder Sam Morgan had this to say: "Dear Journalists: I've not yet talked to Dotcom, but wish him all the best if he is going to do a cable. Not easy, but important for NZ."
But as fellow Pacific Fibre backer Rod Drury points out, that would require permission from the Americans, and Kim Dotcom isn't exactly on the best of terms with the US government.
Dotcom tweeted that he could fund the project by suing Hollywood studios and the US government for the "unlawful and political destruction of my business".
Labour's communications and IT spokesperson Clare Curran told the Herald on Sunday Dotcom's proposal required more analysis but was worth considering .
In a blog post, TUANZ chief executive Paul Brislen says that if nothing else, Dotcom is good at cutting through the red tape and getting on with it.
"Love him or hate him, you have to give him that. Want to share files? Build a file-sharing site. Want to play Modern Warfare 2? Lay fibre to the mansion and hook up your Xbox. Want to run an international business from New Zealand but the infrastructure is lacking? Build the infrastructure yourself and get on with it," he wrote.
"If it takes an odd German with an odd name and a penchant for the wrong German cars (get a Porsche) then so be it. We’re in no position to be picky – let’s just get it build and then discuss the niceties.
"I've heard from a number of TUANZ members who are keen to see something get off the ground. They see the need for competition on the international leg and were disappointed to see Pacific Fibre fall by the wayside.
"Suggestions have ranged from a TUANZ tax on every telco bill to fund a build through to setting up a trust similar to the model used to build electricity lines around New Zealand. I'd be keen to see whether such a thing would fly - it would need the buy-in of some major telcos so we could add the pennies per call or dollars per month to the bill, but that's not insurmountable."
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