Last updated: August 10, 2010 - 8:31am
Google has long presented itself as looking out for the little guy. It easily could have used its wealth and power to gain preferential treatment from Internet providers but always said it would not because that could prevent the next start-up in a Silicon Valley garage from enjoying similar success.
But as Google has gotten bigger and entered new lines of business, it has revised some of its principles -- and it is drawing criticism from start-ups and public interest groups along the way. Google chief executive Eric Schmidt said the firm wouldn't actually pay for preferential treatment on land-based broadband networks. He said that Google would only operate on the "public Internet" that is accessed by any user and that it would not cut special deals to deliver YouTube or other services to fixed-wire consumers at a higher rate.
But analysts pointed out that even if Google doesn't take up that practice, its agreement could lay the groundwork for other companies. Firms could pay providers such as Verizon for extra space on their "pipeline" into American homes, they said. The announcement illustrates a shift in direction for Google, which has been the corporate evangelist for open network practices, particularly on wireless networks.
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