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A Truce on Net Neutrality?

Internet_map_1024 Paul Misener, the global VP for public policy at Amazon, has written an op-ed in which he argues that there is a middle ground to be had in the rancor over net neutrality.

For the uninitiated, this debate has pitted Internet provider against content provider, or Comcast vs. Google, in that the proposed FCC rules would require that all web content be treated equally. In other words, one site couldn’t get advantage over the other just because it has a better delivery to users. If you listen just to diehards on both sides, the rhetoric you make you think that it”s a choice between a free market and free speech.

The fact that it’s Misener writing the op-ed is significant because Amazon is a member of the Open Internet Coalition, one of the chief proponents of robust net neutrality rules. He says he supports allowing Internet providers to provide premium services, i.e. those that have better quality, as long as it does not “degrade” the content of other sites.

Misener writes, “Despite the continuing polarized debate, all three major groups of stakeholders–network operators, consumers, and content providers–would be better off with clear, balanced rules that prohibit harmful discrimination among content but also allows network operators to provide performance enhancement on equal terms, so long as it does not degrade the performance of other content. This would be a win-win-win solution, without compromise.”

His op-ed comes the same week that the Progressive Policy Institute issued a reportcalling for a two-year moratorium on net neutrality rules, arguing that it is “unlikely” that the regulations would boost employment in the telecom industry. But some liberal groups charge that the studyis backed by funding from AT&T and other orgs long opposed to net neutrality.

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has proposed reclassifying the Internet as a telecom service, giving it the legal standing it needs to impose rules of the road for the web.

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