Unbundled Network Element

What Does Unbundled Network Element Mean?

An unbundled network element (UNE) is a part of a telecommunications network that incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) are required to offer on an unbundled basis under the U.S. Telecommunications Act of 1996.


Because new entrants to the telecommunications market may not be able to duplicate the incumbent’s local loop infrastructure, UNE allows them to use infrastructure built by the incumbent for competition in the telecommunications market.

Techopedia Explains Unbundled Network Element

UNE gets its name from ILEC competitors, which are allowed to purchase network infrastructure, such as loops, switches and lines separately at a discount. This allows them to offer services without actually installing any of their own lines to customers. Based on the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the FCC could require local exchange carriers (LECs) to give UNEs at a cost-based price, which may include reasonable profit. The FCC has determined that cost means forward-looking economic cost and has required that states use a methodology called total element long run incremental cost (TELRIC) to determine an appropriate figure.


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Margaret Rouse 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 explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…