One of the entrepreneurs who developed Global Mode says his company has received interest from overseas in the technology and has stepped forward to defend his motivations.
Global Mode is closely associated with internet provider CallPlus which has promoted it as a means for its Slingshot and Orcon customers to access overseas online television services that are supposed to be blocked in New Zealand, such as Netflix and Hulu.
However, Global Mode is a technology developed and trademarked by a four-person Auckland company, Bypass Network Services, whose founders have until now avoided commenting on the controversy surrounding the service.
Sky Television has described the use of Global Mode as a “form of piracy that undermines intellectual property rights” and there has been speculation of a possible legal challenge. That is because the reason overseas television companies try to block their services in New Zealand is that they do not own the local rights to their programming.
It is understood Global Mode is being used by at least two small internet providers in addition to CallPlus, including wireless broadband providers Gisborne Net and Evolution Wireless.
Bypass co-founder Matthew Jackson would not say where the overseas customer interest had come from.
Global Mode had “global influence” after reports on its use by CallPlus were picked up by popular US website Engadget, he said. “We are being watched by the world to see what New Zealand is going to do.”
Jackson, a former Kordia engineer whose background is in online security, said he and commercial director Patrick Jordan-Smith developed the service 14 months ago.
They did so to reduce the likelihood Kiwi broadband users would pirate content and risk picking up malware from dodgy websites, he said.
“We don’t intend to have a public-facing image, but there isn’t the right understanding of why the company exists. What our goal was, was to make it easier for ‘mums and dads’ to be able to access legitimate content.”
Global Mode sat at the forefront of media deregulation, he said. “Consumers want choice and why should what network you are on or what country you are in determine what you should watch and when?”
Jackson said he was encouraged by Spark’s launch last week of internet television Lightbox and he “always expected Global Mode to have a limited life as it draws more competition into the market”.
Global Mode is not the only way New Zealand computer users can bypass “geo-blocks” on the internet. Several companies in North America also let people access services such as Netflix for a fee, using virtual private networks (VPNs) that disguise computer users’ true location.
But Jackson believed Global Mode’s “network level switch” was unique and said it did not have the flipside of restricting access to New Zealand online content that might be blocked overseas, such as shows on TVNZ OnDemand.
Bypass’ says on its website that Global Mode can perform better than VPN alternatives and that internet providers that offer it can expect to reduce their customer “churn” by half.
Jackson would not comment on whether he believed companies such as Netflix could prevent their services being accessed by Global Mode users if they tried.