SAN FRANCISCO – Even as it rolls out a local free wireless Internet service in the city where it is based, Google says it has no plans to position itself as a national provider of such services.
The service, in Mountain View, California, was to become generally available Wednesday after nine months of testing. Google has been selected by the City of San Francisco to install and operate a similar service there in partnership with Earthlink; the two companies are negotiating with the city over the terms.
An executive at Google said Tuesday by telephone that it had embarked on the Mountain View and San Francisco efforts with other objectives: to demonstrate the value of competition in providing Internet access and to build systems that would allow the company to experiment with new business ideas.
Competitive Internet access has been a crucial issue for Google’s executives, who have jousted publicly with telephone and cable industry companies that have threatened to charge content providers for access to networks. The debate has extended to Washington, where Google and its allies have called for regulators and legislators to ensure what proponents call Net neutrality.
There are roughly 300 open contracts for municipal Wi-Fi services around the United States, and Chris Sacca, who heads special initiatives at Google, noted that Google had not been an active bidder for any of the contracts, including a plan for a service covering the greater San Francisco Bay Area.
Fuente: International Herald Tribune, John Markoff