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Kim Dot Com or Kim Dot Come on?

If nothing else, Kim Dotcom’s tweet about reviving Pacific Fibre has reignited debated about whether we need a competitive international cable market for New Zealand.

The short answer is yes, because we don’t have a competitive international cable market. We have Southern Cross Cables and its network, but we don’t have competition, and this concerns me.

It also concerns most of the telcos and ISPs I talk to and it should concern anyone who is supportive of New Zealand building an internationally competitive digital economy.

In the old days we talked about the internet as the “freezer ship” of the future. The internet could deliver the same increase in productivity to the New Zealand economy that the introduction of freezer ships did way back when.

It seems so quaint now, to think of the internet in terms of commerce, when these days we use it to organise revolutions both social and political, but there it is, the internet’s dirty little secret: it can be used to make money.

I’ve said it before, repeatedly, and I’ll keep on saying it. New Zealand stands to gain the most from the move to a digital economy.

We can export teaching instead of teachers, we can export intellectual property instead of goods, we can export talent without losing those people. We can export our business savvy, our capability, our cost effectiveness and our willingness to get the job done.

These things are all in short supply around the world – we can fill that need and we can do it from here, without having to go overseas unless we want to.

For that to work we need something that is also in short supply. Leadership. We don’t need more management, we need leaders with a vision. We need someone to say “this is the plan, this is what we’re going to do because it needs doing”, not “my staff didn’t inform me” or “of course I’m worth my million-dollar salary”.

If nothing else, Kim 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.

We need four things to get this digital economy off the ground: international connectivity, cheap green power, an environment that will attract talent and more students coming through the system keen to work in the digital economy. Let’s focus on that for a while and see how we get on.

And 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.

What do you think? Would a publicly-funded project get off the ground?

Paul Brislen is chief executive of the Telecommunications Users Association (TUANZ).

More by Paul Brislen

Comments and questions

Well presented article, congratulations.
If it takes the big man to shake things up and get some progress towards a competitive cable setup, I'm cheering him.

You must have taken leave of your senses. He's a convicted fraudster involved in stock pump and dumps. He's the worst person imaginable for such a project. Who will he put on the board of directors, Rod Petrecevic and Alan Hawkins?

Yeah... convicted... by who? the C-wemakeupwhatwedon'tknow-IA?

You can't hate his way of life but he is no criminal

Simply put, NZ needs more people with vision and with the ability to follow on that vision to completion, currently people of this sort are sorely lacking.

I think if Kim follows up on his idea of reviving Pacific Fiber then that could potentially transform the country , in other words I agree with the above article, NZ has the potential to become a world leading technology resource, Pacific Fiber is a one step closer to making that a reality.

One thing that strikes me is call centres - we speak passable english and are GMT+11. Our currency is the equivalent of toilet paper globally too... the infrastructure for call centres is actually pretty good in NZ....

Good call. We can do this really well, try the PowerShop call centre in Masterton - probably the best I've ever experienced. If we could clone that we would be on to a real winner and put NZ on the service industry map.

It is as obvious as spending your pay on food, housing and your business- rather than on smokes, booze and gambling! What KimDotCom is saying has been obvious for the last 20 years. In my mind, Kim DotCom is already a great New Zealander and I will describe him as such to my grandchildren and great grand children.

Well-done. Kim dotcom!!!

Competition is always healthy. Its something New Zealand is short of when it comes to core infrastructural services; principally because the governments are in the pockets of the big players.

While Kim Dotcom may potentially have a use for a competing services to Telecoms cable, I suspect he is playing politics; and good on him for doing that. If I was screwed over by the politicians the way he has, I'd want to get even also.

Oh great - lets lead the world in piracy. Illegal file sharing would be the only thing that could fund this utopian vision of free broadband. Any country in the world can easily set up legal cloud storage servers and websites. Don’t be hoodwinked by this Kiwis.

Magician trick of 'distracting attention while stealing wallet' springs to mind... I agree with #6 Anonymous, even if it may not be popular among other commenters here.

you're a moron... why is that 'youtude' has been prosocuted .. tell me who runs hollywood and why is this German guy being singled out?

If he listed I'd buy shares!!

Kim Dotcom has the sort of entrepeneurial talent (and money) that this country needs to get our economy moving again.
Let's hope that the mess created by Key and his minions have not discouraged others.

Forget about Pacifc Fibre. The latest management team are long gone and Drury would be better focussed on trying to justify his half billion dollar valuation for a company turning over 30M.... Incidentally, that latest management team had done a sterling job of signing up tenants such as Vodafone, there was capital available, but Drury et al were to tight and wouldn't put enough skin in, or allow a sensible infrastructure capital structure to be implemented.

This is an international infrastructure play. The cable is effectively financed by the provider, eg Alcatel, people are in la la land if they don't think there's capital for this type of project. get a sensible deal together and we'd have a new cable.

Speaking of Alcatel, why isnt anyone mentioning the french consortium that are busily drawing up plans for an undersea cable to link via the pacific islands and Hawaii..??

Because unlike Pacific Fibre, Hawaiki does not appear to be operating from the top of a soapbox.

Bloody hell, we really are a gullible lot in kiwi land.

So the big man wakes up one morning and tweets some bold claim with bluster, like he seems to most days, and we suck it up hook line and sinker!

"Oh, free Interwebs! Nice! Yay for Mr Dotcom!!" we say.

News flash: Kim Dotcom is not going to build us an online utopia, and your Internet is not going to be "free". You're also probably not going to win lotto.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but get a grip people.

It was reported in the original article that your connection would not be free. KD was proposing that the international data feed portion would be free to households only, with the consumer paying the local telco and ISP data cost portion. The bulk of the Pacific Fibre costs would be debt funded via commercial rating of government and data warehousing businesses. There is huge demand for Data Warehousing in stable and cheap power countries such as NZ, and the new cable would enable that to happen.

I like the idea of a levy on our telco accounts, particularly our broadband traffic. This would be a practical way of crowdfunding such a venture, with user pays and user buyin. A bit like bridge tolls paying for the bridge. The contra that you would be buying could be either free or cheap data access, or a shareholding in the company with resultant dividends down the track. Simple.
The levy could be started right now to build a funding base to reassure international lenders and get a start on the planning and build. With an assured base income and deposit the build could be started anytime soon.
The levy could be voluntary for those who are anti-compulsion, and would reward those who sign up with shares and subsequent dividends.

Good article Paul.
As more people get their houses hooked up to fibre running at 100mbps, and notice their data cap for the month runs out in a few hours, the current cries for more competition in International Capacity will become a scream.

On our Slingshot unlimited data plan, we have quite a number of customers consuming well over (gulp) 1,000 Gigabytes of data a month, on a DSL link, and there are many legitimate needs for this much usage and more.

You can't blame Southern Cross for being a monopoly-holder and pricing the way they do, but we do need competition to get the prices down in this era of exploding data usage.

Tell us what the legitimate needs are the? Are these businesses or the unemployed watching movies?

Hi Anonymous,

I run TUANZ from home, I back everything up each night, I have two children and a wife who also use the internet connection and between us we have two smart phones, a desktop and laptop PC and three iPods all of which update all their apps via my connection. We easily get through 80GB/month.

I don't do anything too exotic - but I know people who regularly download the latest version of Linux, watch HD TV and movies (legally and otherwise), play online games and host servers all from their home connections.

Once we add in new areas like 3D printing and machine to machine comms, we're talking about a world where 1TB/month will seem quite paltry. The benefits will be great but to enjoy them we need more bandwidth.


Paul Brislen

Seems like a PR exercrise in the wake of the fortcoming trial.

If our current Govt changed focus from it's spending on roading to fibre, it could be paid for from the current tax take. Why they continue to fund new roading projetcs when fuel prices will very shortly ensure we have all the highway space one could want, shows an inability to face reality.

Forget Kim Dotcom for now - except as a catalyst...

Think large International Corporate Backup Datacenters (The Ultimate Off-site NZ Cloud), think PACRIM network management & link switching control, think Greenpower Distributed Generation for Datacenters eg. Capstone Turbine for NZ Clean-Green co-branding.
Think very high skill, lower overhead careers in lifestyle NZ eg IBM / HP outsourcing to New Zealand, think capacity for Weightless Export.

Hi David,

funny you should say that - I wrote something similar for today's blog post on the TUANZ website:

well said, although I do believe that in isolation great and cheaper international connectivity wont be enough to act as an economic jump-starter for NZ's ailing economy.

Unfortunately the Internet is only a medium and as such requires people with the right skills and vision to use it to generate wealth. Perhaps we also need some debate around investing in education and valuing skills that will grow our economy. Sadly this isnt happening as it isnt a short term or easy thing (it is also a difficult thing to business case)

While technically true, the medium is a game changer with sufficient aggregation of users. eg with education & skills development in world class research institutes eg the Auckland Bioengineering Institute - the limits to NZ government funding means that more income is deliberately been targetted from international contract research done within NZ. Regrettably the available PBRF funding supports a fraction of available postgrad output, all equally deserving of funding reducing the leverage of this available talent pool even further.
In the IT & T sector these constraints don't apply to the same extent as the pace of change has always been rapid and adaption has occurred far more readily. What is needed is a series of approaches to say the international banking sector, to convince just one major bank to relocate its global 8 hour network monitoring time slot to NZ instead of Sydney, Singapore or Hong Kong - that aggregation would be a catalyst to encourage other banks here in the same way that IT companies have been outsourcing from say Aust to NZ to take advantage of lower labour costs & overheads. The skills are already here but a deliberate approach is required by both Government & Industry to make the case "at large" & stop being so Hands OFF!

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