Op-Ed: Why Shelter the Internet Edge Providers

By Anna-Maria Kovacs, Visiting Senior Policy Scholar at the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy

The Senate is about to vote on a resolution introduced under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to repeal the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 2017 Restoring Internet Freedom order and resurrect the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet order. The 2015 order applied no blocking of legal content, no throttling, no paid prioritization, enhanced transparency, and no unreasonable-interference rules to the providers of broadband Internet access (ISPs).  It allows the FCC to regulate the ISPs as common carriers under laws that date back to 1934.  However, the order explicitly and intentionally excludes Internet edge providers from these FCC regulations.

In their May 9th press release about the resolution, Senators Markey and Schumer claim: “This vote will allow Senators to show once and for all whose side they are on:  are they for protecting average consumers and middle-class families? Or are they protecting the big, corporate special interests?”

Ironically, because the 2015 order does nothing to restrain the edge giants, those who vote for the resolution will inevitably protect the special interests of the five largest corporations in this country, who all happen to be Internet edge providers:  Apple ($951 B), Amazon ($780 B), Google ($753 B), Microsoft ($745 B), and Facebook ($529 B).  Their collective market capitalization of $3.8 trillion as of May 15th is more than five times that of the ISPs regulated under the 2015 order.