Don’t Put a Cap on Competition

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The following is an edited excerpt from testimony offered
by Paul Misener, vice president for global public policy
at, to the Senate Committee on Commerce,
Science and Technology on April 24. (For more
coverage of this hearing, see Rules.)

Online video has emerged, and

undoubtedly will be a key medium of future
video delivery. Consumers already have a
wide array of opportunities to stream, rent,
or buy online video programming, including
from Amazon. With continued growth
of broadband Internet access service, we
believe consumer demand and choice will
cause continued growth of online video services
for an even brighter future.

This assumes, of course, that the Internet
will remain a non-discriminatory, open platform.
The open Internet encourages innovation and allows
consumers to decide whether a particular product
or service succeeds or fails. Any specialized services offered
by network operators should not harm the delivery
of content via broadband Internet access service,
nor impede its growth, nor be offered on unequal terms
(that is, bits are bits). And this openness is particularly
crucial in rural areas of the country, where other choices
are more limited than elsewhere.

The online video services we offer today are only the
latest examples of benefits to consumers resulting from
the open Internet functioning as a platform for rapid
innovation and vigorous competition. The FCC has
pledged to monitor the potential for anticompetitive or
otherwise harmful effects from specialized
services, but I ask that your Committee remain
vigilant on this and other issues of Internet
openness. For example, consumer
data caps instituted by some network operators
merit such vigilance. Although Internet
subscribers should pay for the bandwidth
they use, immutable or unrealistically priced
data caps could hinder or prevent competitive
products and services made possible by
online video. Consumer choice, without impairment,
must be preserved.

Amazon would be happy to assist the committee
in any way we can be helpful, including
if the committee were to undertake a
review of the 1996 Act. As the testimony delivered this
morning indicates, the lines between the communications
services separately addressed in that legislation
continue to blur, and how consumers — especially young
people — now think of television does not match longstanding
legal and regulatory conventions. Your hearing
today already has drawn important attention to that fact.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, believes
that the future of online video is very bright for consumers,
and we look forward to working with the committee
to preserve consumer choice.