Kim Dotcom promises Kiwis free broadband

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Kim Dotcom, the new Zealander currently facing extradition to the US on file-sharing copyright charges, has come up with a plan that's as much larger than life as the man himself.

He says he hopes to be able to offer free internet to all New Zealanders, by resurrecting a plans to build an undersea cable from the country to the US.

The plan would involve restarting a company called Pacific Fibre, which sank beneath the waves last year through lack of funds.

"One thing is clear after receiving over 1000 positive messages about Pacific Fibre today. NZ wants it. Let's do it," he tweeted.

"I'll arrange a meeting with Pacific Fibre founders this week (if they have time) & explain my plan. Let's see what they think."

Broadband prices are high in New Zealand, largely because it lacks enough capacity on the submarine cables which connect it to the rest of the world.

Dotcom's plan would be dependent on foreign companies storing and accessing data in New Zealand. Charging foreign users, businesses and government could make enough money to allow free access for local individuals, he says.

He's even suggested to the New Zealand Herald that more cash could be raised for the service through lawsuits against the US government and film studios for their 'unlawful and political destruction' of Megaupload.

Dotcom's plan is being taken seriously.

"I've heard from a number of TUANZ members who are keen to see something get off the ground," says Paul Brislen of the Telecommunication Users Association of New Zealand (TUANZ).

"They see the need for competition on the international leg and were disappointed to see Pacific Fibre fall by the wayside."

Dotcom is currently in trouble with the US authorities over his now-closed Megaupload site, with an extradition hearing due in January. However, he's not taking it lying down, and last week announced plans for a new service, Mega.com, which would offer a similar service without using any US-based hosting companies.