Local Exchange Carrier

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What Does Local Exchange Carrier Mean?

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.

Techopedia Explains Local Exchange Carrier

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:

  • Number portability: In accordance with the rules provided by the telephone commission, they are to assist with number portability and provide all technical help as and when needed.
  • Resale of telecommunication services: A local exchange carrier is not allowed to prohibit or superimpose discriminatory limitations for resale of their telecommunication services.
  • Dialing parity: It is the responsibility of the local exchange carrier for providing dialing parity to all telecommunication service providers without any possible delays and with all possible assistance.
  • Comply to standards and policies: They must comply to the standards and policies along with setting the monitoring requirements as mentioned by the public service commission.
  • Reciprocal compensation: In order to transport and end telecommunication services, arrangements for reciprocal compensation must be made as needed.

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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.