In a startling guest column on CNET yesterday, Paul Misener, vice president for global public policy at Amazon.com, for all practical purposes reversed his company’s stand on network neutrality, particularly the controversial non-discrimination rule, which would prohibit ISPs from creating and charging providers of large-scale content, applications and commerce for faster broadband connections and tiered quality of service.
In his column, Misener concedes what many TLF bloggers and friends have argued for years: that the net neutrality rules are a solution in search of a problem, and that large providers like Amazon already invest in techniques that ensure quality delivery of content and apps, albeit at the edge, not within the network cloud. Misener writes:
First, there have been almost no Net neutrality violations. Opponents of Net neutrality rules say this record demonstrates that regulation is unnecessary–that Net neutrality is “a solution in search of a problem.” But actually, the threats of legislation (since 2007) and FCC regulation (since 2009) have kept the network operators on their best behavior.
Moreover, Net neutrality has become a populist consumer issue in a way that few FCC issues ever have (try Web-searching the terms “Net neutrality” or, more humorously, “series of tubes”). So, it’s hard to imagine policymakers adopting laws or rules that would condone popular notions of Net neutrality violations.
Second, the legal/regulatory uncertainties have, understandably, dissuaded network operators from making investments in new technologies and services that might subsequently be found to violate Net neutrality. Unfortunately, some observers seem to think that this uncertainty hurts only the network operators and their suppliers, but consumers and content providers also are suffering, albeit unwittingly, from the lack of new services that might otherwise be available.