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A local exchange carrier (LEC) is the term used in the U.S. for describing the telephone company which operates within a local area and provides telecommunication services within that area.
Local exchange carriers started across the U.S. following the breakup of the Bell system due to antitrust regulations. Local exchange carriers are allowed only to handle local calls, and not any long-distance traffic.
A local exchange carrier is one of the two categories of landline telephone services in the U.S., the other being an interexchange carrier (IXC). The local area in which the local exchange carrier operates is often called the local access and transport area (LATA). Bell operating companies form most of the largest local exchange carriers across the U.S. Local exchange carriers run lines to homes and businesses in the local area, which end up in local exchanges. The local exchange is considered to be the central office for a local exchange carrier.
Key responsibilities of the local exchange carrier are: