Incumbent local exchange carrier

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"ILEC" redirects here. For the International Legal English Certificate, see International Legal English Certificate.

An incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC), is a local telephone company which held the regional monopoly on landline service before the market was opened to competitive local exchange carriers, or the corporate successor of such a firm. In much of North America, these were originally Bell System companies, although various regional independents (including GTE in the US or four originally provincially-owned utilities in western Canada) held incumbent monopolies in their respective regions.

In the United States, these were companies in existence at the time of the breakup of AT&T into the Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs), also known as the "Baby Bells."[1] GTE was the second largest ILEC after the Bells, but it has since been absorbed into Verizon, an RBOC. In some areas, an independent telephone company is responsible for providing local telephone exchange services in a specified geographic area.

In Canada, ILEC's are the original telephone companies such as Telus (BC Tel and Alberta Government Telephones), SaskTel, Manitoba Telephone Systems (MTS Allstream), Bell Canada and Aliant, as well as any other company that previously held a monopoly to serve a community and continues to do so, or a successor company if it is bought and absorbed. ILECs are obligated to serve the entire exchange area as a "provider of last resort", while CLECs can choose which locations to serve, be it by facilities of their own or by resale of services of an ILEC or another CLEC.


An ILEC, with respect to an area in the United States, is a local exchange carrier (LEC) that:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may, by rule, provide for the treatment of an LEC (or class or category thereof) as an ILEC if:

  • Such carrier occupies a position in the market for telephone exchange service within an area that is comparable to the position occupied by a carrier described previously
  • Such carrier has substantially replaced an ILEC described previously
  • Such treatment is consistent with the public interest, convenience and necessity


ILECs have the same duties of a LEC and in addition:

  • Duty to negotiate - The duty to negotiate in good faith the particular terms and conditions of agreements to fulfill the duties described for a LEC and the specific ones for the ILEC. The requesting telecommunications carrier also has the duty to negotiate in good faith the terms and conditions of such agreements.
  • Interconnection - The duty to provide, for the facilities and equipment of any requesting telecommunications carrier, interconnection with the LEC's network -
    • For the transmission and routing of telephone exchange service and exchange access
    • At any technically feasible point within the carrier's network
    • That is at least equal in quality to that provided by the LEC to itself or to any subsidiary, affiliate or any other party to which the carrier provides interconnection
    • On rates, terms and conditions that are just, reasonable and nondiscriminatory, in accordance with the terms and conditions of the agreement
  • Unbundled access - The duty to provide, to any requesting telecommunications carrier for the provision of a telecommunications service, nondiscriminatory access to network elements on an unbundled basis at any technically feasible point on rates, terms and conditions that are just, reasonable and nondiscriminatory in accordance with the terms and conditions of the agreement. An ILEC shall provide such unbundled network elements in a manner that allows requesting carriers to combine such elements in order to provide such telecommunications service.
  • Resale - The duty
    • To offer for resale at wholesale rates any telecommunications service that the carrier provides at retail to subscribers who are not telecommunications carriers
    • Not to prohibit, and not to impose unreasonable or discriminatory conditions or limitations on, the resale of such telecommunications service,
  • Notice of changes - The duty to provide reasonable public notice of changes in the information necessary for the transmission and routing of services using that local exchange carrier's facilities or networks, as well as of any other changes that would affect the interoperability of those facilities and networks.
  • Colocation - The duty to provide, on rates, terms and conditions that are just, reasonable and nondiscriminatory, for physical colocation of equipment necessary for interconnection or access to unbundled network elements at the premises of the local exchange carrier, except that the carrier may provide for virtual colocation if the LEC demonstrates that physical colocation is not practical for technical reasons or because of space limitations.


  1. ^ Andrew Pollack (1 January 1984). "Bell System Break-Up Opens Era Of Great Expectations and Great Concern". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  2. ^ "47CFR69.601". U.S. Government Printing Office. 

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