Eccentric Internet millionaire Kim Dotcom vowed this week to fund free Internet access for all of New Zealand once he gets his new website off the ground.
Dotcom is currently embroiled in an extradition fight against the U.S., which accused him of running the largest criminal copyright infringement operation in history and seized his business, Megaupload, in January. The site provided free cloud-based file storage to more than 50 million customers.
Dotcom says new site, Me.ga, will function similarly, but with enhanced encryption and distributed hosting, ensuring that users "hold the keys" to their own files, instead of the host.
He reportedly told New Zealand's One News that Me.ga "would fund a share" of the ambitious $400 million Pacific Fibre program that was scrapped in August for lack of resources. It's not clear how much Dotcom would invest, but the New Zealand government was already planning to help finance part the project before it was scrapped.
Under Dotcom's plan, according to The New Zealand Herald, individuals and families would receive Internet access for free while businesses and government entities pay a small fee.
Pacific Fibre aimed at roughly doubling New Zealand's bandwidth capacity by linking an undersea cable to the United States. "Me.ga would be the single largest customer on the new cable and our presence here would attract new internet businesses to open in NZ," he reportedly said.
However, Dotcom's involvement with the plan could prompt U.S. regulators to resist the installation. That might force Pacific Fibre to anchor their cable in China, Canada or Mexico if they accept Dotcom's proposal.
Dotcom's extradition trial is expected to begin in March.