One issue remains to be resolved with the concept of New Zealand becoming a data centre for content and that’s latency.
We live in a remote corner of the world at least what, 120ms away from our nearest large market (sorry Australia – I’m talking about the US) and unless faster than light quantum computing becomes a reality in the near future, we’re not going to change that.
Latency affects all manner of services. Voice calls are notoriously impacted by lag, as is video calling and computer gaming. Too much lag will cause your secure VPN to fall over and that makes online banking or other reputation-aware services problematic.
But what can we do that isn’t time sensitive in such a way? YouTube for example, or streaming long-form movies – an activity that accounts for anywhere between a quarter and half of all US domestic traffic. What about Dropbox-like services or most of the new range of cloud computing activities (this blog, for example, is hosted by a company based in New York but I haven’t the faintest idea where the data is stored).
As Kim Dotcom said to NBR, HTML5 means multi-threaded downloads and uploads which means aside from the initial connection, lag isn’t an issue for services like web browsing, music or movie streaming or any of the rest of it. Local content caching is becoming the norm for such data and New Zealand could easily take a place in that market.
There is no reason any of those kinds of data can’t be stored locally and served to the world – the only impediments are a lack of competition on the international leg and a willingness to go out and sell that capability to the world.
Our distance to market has always been seen as a negative – let’s make it a positive. We’re remote, we’re stable, we’re “uninvadable” by anyone who might object to freedom of information and we have cheap, renewable energy. Give us a new cable and we won’t have to worry about the negotiations between Tiwai smelter and the power companies and New Zealand will be a net exporter of data and that means money.