In communication services, an edge provider is a website, web service, web application, online content hosting or online content delivery service that customers connect to over the internet. Edge providers, which include Google, Amazon, Netflix and Facebook, use the customer’s internet service provider (ISP) to deliver content.
In the United States, edge providers are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The choice of the word edge is intended to differentiate content, application and web service providers who operate at the edge of a network from those companies that provide the intranet’s core infrastructure.
Customer data management and protection of personally identifiable information (PII) is an important aspect of the debate that surrounds the concept of Net Neutrality. If ISPs are categorized as edge providers or contract carriers instead of as common carriers, they are allowed to share and/or sell customer data as long as the customer has opted in.
Another important aspect of the Net Neutrality debate is whether or note broadband carriers can block or degrade service for certain edge providers or charge higher fees for prioritizing an edge provider’s content delivery. Critics have argued that paid prioritization places an unnecessary financial stress on edge providers and allows ISPs to become powerful gatekeepers who can control and manipulate the free market.