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Local access and transport area (LATA) is a U.S. telecommunications term that refers to a geographical area of the U.S. assigned to telephone companies to provide communication services. These areas exist under the terms of a Modification of Final Judgment entered by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in civil action number 82-0192. This civil action dealt with the break up of AT&T into Baby Bells, or Regional Bell operating companies (RBOCs) in 1982. A LATA is an area in which one of these divested AT&T companies is allowed to provide telecommunications services. According to the court's judgment, Baby Bells were not allowed to provide services across LATAs, only within them.
LATA boundaries are drawn around markets and may not be necessarily be laid around existing province, state or area code borders. Initially, LATAs were grouped into regions where one particular RBOC provided services. LATAs in every such region are numbered beginning with common digits.The Modification of Final Judgment divided the United States into 245 LATAs, each of which was designed to hold around 1 million subscribers.Connections between telephone companies within the same region are called intra-LATA connnections, while connections between two local exchange carriers in different regions are called inter-LATA connections, which are similar to long-distance services. These services are provided by inter-exchange carriers including MCI, Sprint Nextel and AT&T.