Kim Dotcom's latest wheeze: free broadband for all Kiwis
Internet entrepreneur plans cable across the Pacific - and aims to pay for it by suing US government
INTERNET entrepreneur Kim Dotcom is putting his time to good use as he waits to find out if he will be extradited from New Zealand to the US on piracy charges.
After announcing a successor to his Megaupload file-sharing website last week, the 38-year-old now appears to be currying favour in his adoptive country by putting forward a plan that will give everyone in New Zealand free broadband access.
Dotcom - real name Schmitz - wants to resurrect plans to link New Zealand to the US with a fibre-optic cable across the Pacific, which were dropped last year. Such a connection would double New Zealand's bandwidth, and would also have benefits for Dotcom's new venture, called me.ga.
In a novel twist Dotcom says he will partly fund the project by suing Hollywood studios and the US Government for their "unlawful and political destruction" of his previous business, Megaupload.
Once the cable is installed households would be given free broadband access, with only business and government customers charged to use it.
Tech website The Register explains that New Zealand's isolation means that internet connections can be expensive, but a new cable could change all that.
The idea has been well received in some quarters. "If anyone can put together a deal like this, then it would be Kim Dotcom," telecoms lobbyist Paul Brislen told the New Zealand Herald.
Others agree with Dotcom that the cable could help make New Zealand a popular location for internet businesses.
However, he faces a significant problem – namely, the charges against him in the US related to his Megaupload file-sharing site. But the situation is not clear cut. Dotcom has New Zealand residency and the FBI raids on his home in Auckland have been ruled illegal, putting his extradition in doubt.
"Dotcom... faces an extradition hearing in March, and has engaged in a concerted campaign to court public opinion in his adopted country," says The Guardian.