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Local Exchange Carrier (LEC)

A Local Exchange Carrier (LEC) is a term used in the telecommunications industry, particularly in North America, to describe a telephone company that provides services for local calls.

LECs can be either incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) or competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs). 

  • Provision of Local Services: LECs primarily provide local telephone services, including basic phone connectivity and local calling within a defined geographical area or exchange.

  • Incumbent vs. Competitive Carriers: ILECs are the original, established telephone companies that were often monopolies in their service areas before market deregulation. CLECs emerged after deregulation to provide competition in the local telephone service market.

  • Regulatory Environment: The operations of LECs are regulated by governmental agencies, such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States. Regulations cover aspects like service quality, pricing, and market competition.

  • Interconnection with Other Networks: LECs are responsible for connecting calls from their customers to customers of other networks, including long-distance carriers and other LECs. This involves interconnection agreements and network access arrangements.

Local Exchange Carriers play a crucial role in providing foundational telecommunications services, ensuring local connectivity and access to broader telecommunication networks for communities.

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