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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 21st year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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MegaKey - bad news for the NZ Internet?

21 January 2013

Yesterday morning, Kim Dotcom's new MegaKey (MK) service launched just before 7am NZDT.

Initial reports are mixed but one thing that did appear consistent was the griping about the speed of it all. Of course it could be argued that any new service that is launched with all the fanfare of MK is naturally going to encounter some very severe loading in its first few hours of operation so capacity issues are to be expected.

But if they were expected -- why weren't they provisioned for?

According to reports, over half a million users signed up in those first few hours and, according to KD, the total signups hit 1 million on the first day -- a pretty impressive number, especially considering this is largely an NZ-hosted site.

However, before we get too proud and start patting ourselves on the back about the seeming popularity of this venture, perhaps it's time to take a step back and consider the downsides

Giving 50GB of encrypted file-locker space away for free is wonderful -- until even 10% of those 1,000,000 new users decide to start downloading or uploading files to those boxes.

Although we're constantly told that the Southern Cross cable has ample capacity to handle this kind of load -- is that really true?

While Kiwis are surfing the web and watching a few YouTube videos, the SC cable seems to do the job okay -- but what happens when millions of MK users start moving petabytes of data to and from our tiny island nation?

Of course MK is a distributed service so it won't all be coming to/from NZ -- but right now, I'm picking that a fair chunk of that data will be streaming up/down the SC cable, until such time as KD recruits a whole lot more overseas players into his server network.

Let's not forget also, that a huge percentage of those who'll be using this service are going to be in the USA -- where there will be *no* servers based at all. Even if there are other servers dotted around the world, load balancing will probably mean that NZ always sees a fair chunk of the MK traffic.

So where are the assurances that we're not going to find our YouTube videos constantly buffering, our email backing up and our gamers beating their heads against a wall of ever-increasing latency -- all due to the MK traffic that floods the SC cable?

Then there are the issues of IP blocks.

Already a number of users in the USA, who found themselves unable to upload to their new MK dropbox, are suggesting that ISPs have been coerced by the RIAA/MPAA to block traffic to IP addresses associated with the service. Whether this was just paranoia on the part of some disappointed users and simply overloading at MK we don't know yet -- however, this is one strategy that I would not be surprised to see from those who consider MK to be a threat to their revenues.

And here in NZ... are the operators of the SC cable vulnerable to lobbying and corporate blackmail which could see them artificially constraining speeds for NZ net users in an attempt to turn Kim Dotcom and his MegaKey service into a villain amongst locals?

Many questions but, at this stage, not too many answers.

The future will be interesting, very interesting indeed.

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