Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (ILEC)

Choosing Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers

An Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier is a telephone service carrier that provided local service when the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was passed. ILECs are generally Regional Bell Operating Companies, sometimes called "Baby Bells," that were created after the break up of AT&T in the 1980s. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 allowed the Regional Bell Operating Companies to offer long distance service in exchange for allowing competition for local phone service and DSL.

Two types of telephone companies were born: Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers, or ILECs and Competitive Local Exchange Carriers, or CLECs. Competitive Local Exchange Carriers use rack space and lines provided by the ILEC and resell the services to local customers. An ILEC company is often the default carrier and competes with CLECs for phone service and other offerings like DSL. When choosing between an ILEC or a CLEC, here is what you must do:

1. Find out who the ILEC and CLEC providers in your area are.

2. Compare the cost of services from different types of companies.

3. Evaluate service levels and customer service from both types of providers.

Find an incumbent local exchange listing

When you set up phone service and DSL, you need to find out who your local telephone service carriers are. This information can be found on your state's Public Utility Commission website.
Federal Communications Commission to get information about regulations or how to file a complaint.

Get reliable service with a large ILEC carrier

Chances are, your local ILEC is a company that has been in operation for decades. Many ILECS are huge companies that operate in a large area of the country. Their experience and the fact that they own the equipment means fast, reliable service, although rates and customer service may not be as competitive.

Check out your area's competitive local exchange carrier

Depending on where your business is located, you may have a wide range of choices of CLECs that offer local service as well as long distance and high-speed Internet services. Companies include locally based, small providers and large national providers that provide services throughout the country.
  • Keep in mind that, while competitive local exchange carriers may offer great rates, their control over system outages is limited.