What Does Common Carrier Mean?
A common carrier is a company that transports goods or
people for anyone who is willing to pay, as opposed to a contract carrier that
only serves a certain clientele. The term refers to companies like airlines or
couriers, but in the context of communication it can also include telephone
companies and internet service providers (ISPs).
Techopedia Explains Common Carrier
A common carrier is a company that offers its services to
everyone while operating under “ministerial authority.” These companies, such
as airlines, railroads, bus lines and freight companies serve customers under a
regulatory framework. The term also applies to telecommunications companies.
For example, AT&T was designated a common carrier, providing a virtual
monopoly on phone service in the U.S. while being required by law to build out
its phone network into less profitable rural areas. With the rise of net
neutrality as a political issue in the 21st century, there were
calls to designate ISPs into common carriers, which the U.S. Federal
Communications Commission did in 2015 to preserve net neutrality rules.