The Government is being urged to give consideration to internet millionaire Kim Dotcom's pitch to restart the abandoned Pacific Fibre broadband cable project.
Dotcom announced on Twitter over the weekend that he wants to revive the $400 million plan to build a 12,950km fibre cable between Auckland, Sydney and Los Angeles, which was abandoned in August due to lack of funding.
The project's original backers included Trade Me founder Sam Morgan, The Warehouse founder Sir Stephen Tindall and technology entrepreneur Rod Drury.
Dotcom, who faces internet piracy charges in the US over his file-sharing website Megaupload, wants the new cable to provide faster internet access to new "Mega" websites he is launching, including a cloud storage service at http://me.ga.
He is promising "free broadband for all Kiwis" and says the cable, along with New Zealand's cheap and clean energy, could also be a drawcard for other foreign internet businesses.
"The new Mega based in New Zealand might be what's needed to make this thing happen," he told Computerworld.
Labour's communications spokeswoman Clare Curran says Dotcom's proposal requires more analysis but is worth consideration.
"The sentiment is right," Ms Curran says.
"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."
Ms Curran says the cable was essential for the Government's ultrafast broadband scheme and would create new opportunities for economic growth.
"As Kim Dotcom has pointed out, the Government is quite happy to invest billions in highways of dubious significance while at the same time neglecting the international fibre highway connections that will help our economy flourish," she says.
Prime Minister John Key this morning said Dotcom was welcome to try and revive the project, but was sceptical of his chances.
"It had a really star-studded cast of people who were prepared to be involved... in the end they couldn't come up with investors that thought it actually made sense," he told Breakfast this morning.
"So you have to say, ok, well Kim Dotcom might but he'd be doing something that other investors didn't want to do."
Dotcom has invited Mr Morgan and Mr Drury to his Coatesville mansion for a swim and to discuss the project.
Both men wished Dotcom well with the plan, but Mr Drury pointed out he would require permission from the US for the cable, and this could pose an issue with Dotcom facing extradition there on copyright and money laundering charges.
Mr Morgan said he'd be happy to be involved, but money was still an issue.
"It is an extremely important piece of infrastructure. What we really need is a cornerstone investor with a couple of hundred million dollars."
NZN / 3 News