Prior to 1984, the PSTN in the United States consisted of the Bell System (a part of AT&T) and a number of independent telephone companies such as GTE. A U.S. federal court considered the Bell System/AT&T a monopoly and forced it to divest its interests.
As part of the divestiture, the Modification of Final Judgment (MFJ) called for the separation of exchange and interexchange telecommunications functions. Exchange services are provided by RBOCs (Regional Bell Operating Companies); interexchange services are provided by other than RBOC entities. What this means is that local telephone service may be provided by the RBOCs and long-distance (interexchange) services by non-RBOC entities such as AT&T, Sprint, MCI, and WorldCom.
New service territories called Local Access and Transport Areas (LATAs), also referred to as service areas by some RBOCs, were created in response to the MFJ exchange-area requirements. LATAs serve the following two basic purposes:
• They provide a method for delineating the area within which the RBOCs may offer services.
• They provided a basis for determining how the assets of the former Bell System were to be divided between the RBOCs and AT&T at divestiture.
Appendix B of the MFJ requires each RBOC must offer equal access through RBOC end offices (local exchanges) in a LATA to all interexchange carriers (IXCs, such as Sprint, MCI, and many others). All carriers must be provided services that are equal in type, quality, and price to those provided by AT&T.
We define a LEC (local exchange carrier) as a company that provides intraLATA telecommunication within a franchised territory. A LATA defines those areas within which a LEC may offer telecommunication services. Many independent LECs are associated with RBOCs in LATAs and provide exchange access individually or jointly with a RBOC.
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