Kim Dotcom - the eccentric internet entrepreneur facing extraction to the USA for alleged piracy - has developed a plan to provide all New Zealanders free domestic broadband access.
The German-born web tycoon made a fortune of around £100 million via his Mega Upload file storage website, which US prosecutors allege was involved in illegal sharing of films, music and other material.
In January this year dozens of police raided Dotcom’s mansion in Auckland, New Zealand, where he has been based for two years.
The officers were working on behalf of the FBI and, although New Zealand’s High Court has since declared the raid illegal, Dotcom faces an extradition hearing in March.
For now, however, the 38-year-old intends to fund his plan for free domestic broadband access for all New Zealanders by suing Hollywood studios and the US government for the “unlawful and political destruction” of his business.
Dotcom, who was born Kim Schmitz in 1974, proposes to resurrect a planned fibre optic cable between New Zealand and the US that was dropped in August when Pacific Fibre announced they couldn’t secure funding.
If the £200 million project had gone ahead, it would have doubled New Zealand’s available internet bandwidth.
Declaring his plan key to New Zealand’s future, Dotcom said: “You have clean and cheap energy here. Power is becoming the biggest cost factor for data centres around the world. With its own cable, cheap power and connectivity, New Zealand could attract foreign internet business. Unfortunately, the current government wants to invest into more tarmac roads. In 10 to 15 years most people will work and shop from home. You don't need tarmac, you need fibre!“
The proposals are part of a concerted PR campaign by Dotcom, who has been on bail since February and hopes to win the support of the public in his adopted country before his extraction hearing.
Although his funding model is somewhat unorthodox, Dotcom’s plans have won popular support, with MP Clare Curran saying: “The sentiment is right. Kiwi businesses, particularly in the technology sector, have been calling for a second cable for some time now. Their concerns need to be taken seriously.”
Paul Brislen from the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand added: “If anyone can put together a deal like this, then it would be Kim Dotcom.”