Telecommunications Services Providers Information

TelecommunicationsTelecommunications services providers (TSP) include local telephone companies, local exchange carriers, and wireless communications services. They allow users of landlines and cell phones to send and receive telephone calls and faxes. Local telephone companies provide phone services, such as local and long distance calling, to homes and businesses. They may also offer unlimited local use and fixed rates for long-distance calls. Local exchange carriers (LEC), or telcos, operate the local exchanges where residential lines and business lines terminate. They connect to other LECs within a local access transport area (LATA), and to interchange carriers (IXC). Some LEC companies also provide cell phone service.

Types of Telecommunications Services Providers

In the United States, there are two basic types of LECs: incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) and competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs). ILECs provide local telephone exchange services to a specific geographic area. These regional Bell operating companies (RBOC), or Baby Bells, include AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications, and Qwest. CLECs are newer telecommunications services providers that compete with the ILECs that once enjoyed geographic-specific monopolies. Like the ILECs, CLECs must register with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and report the states or jurisdictions where they provide services. Examples of CLECs include Adelphia and Time Warner.


Telecommunications services providers differ in terms of:

  • coverage area
  • hardware support
  • monthly fees
  • maintenance charges
  • per minute costs
  • billing increments
  • minimum calling times
  • average customer service wait times

Typically, telephone service providers offer calling plans or packages with features such as call waiting, caller identification (or caller ID), and voice mail. In selecting a plan, telephone customers need to determine the number of lines and number of extensions that are needed. Advanced features for business customers include extension dialing, ring groups (hunt groups), three-way conferencing, and multiple call handling. Telephone switchboards with an auto-attendant are also available.


Some telecommunications services providers also function as communication service providers (CSP), cell phone service providers, and wireless service providers (WSP). CSPs are telephone companies, satellite companies, and Internet service providers (ISP) that offer telecommunications, media, and Internet or Web services. Like a local phone service provider, a cell phone service provider may bundle product offerings into packages. Cell phone packages may include fixed and variable minute limits, unlimited long-distance (or "anytime" minutes), and text-messaging. WSPs are telecommunications companies that offer transmission services to users of wireless devices through radio frequency (RF) signals rather than end-to-end wire communication. They may offer cell phone service, personal communication service (PCS), or both.

Related Information

IEEE Spectrum—FCC Votes "Yes" on Net Neutrality

IEEE Spectrum—Why Mobile Voice Quality Still Stinks—and How to Fix It

IEEE Spectrum—Why WiFi Stinks—and How to Fix It

IEEE Spectrum—FCC Gives Municipal Broadband Providers (and Internet Competition) a Boost

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