Many people wonder why their telephone company charges different prices for different types of long-distance calls. Doesn’t this mean that customers can get charged a lot on all of their long-distance calling service since every call can be a different price? The answer to this question is an obvious, “yes.” They will certainly be charged more because of all the additional parties involved and extra steps needed due to the distance that their call must travel.
The local telephone company or “local exchange carrier” (LEC), as it is known in the industry, is the entry point for a person who wants telephone service. An LEC, however, is not concerned with finding the most favorable ways of making the whole long-distance connection. They are initially just concerned with taking care of the physical network, like telephone poles & wires and big telecom switches, which supports the local calling area. And of course, they also need to make sure that all long-distance calls are organized so that each finds the proper connections to the communication super-highway.
For this reason, a market exists for smaller companies to help organize long-distance only calls and it all begins with their ability to find the best ways of making long-distance connections. In the past, there was only one way in which calls were connected because there was only one telephone company in the whole United States. Later on, other LEC’s were formed but long-distance calls were all still handled by only one long-distance telephone company. Customers had very little choice about how much they paid on their telephone bills, especially on their long-distance calls, which were often very expensive to make. But then the government changed telecommunication regulations and enacted anti-monopoly laws against the one long-distance company. Thus, the road was paved toward allowing other companies, not just the LEC’s, to serve customers’ long-distance telephone needs. Now customers could choose which company was going to provide local service and which was going to provide long-distance. This was particularly important for people who used a lot of long-distance because the new long-distance companies offered much more affordable rates compared to those offered by LEC’s who were not pressured to find the most efficient ways to make the complete connection across all different areas to the final intended destination.
The current dual-company, phone-service situation means that customers can choose one company for their local telephoning needs – an LEC – and then choose a different company – a long-distance carrier – to handle their long-distance calls. With this set-up, all local calls are serviced by an LEC and all long-distance calls by the long-distance carrier. Of course, the LEC will still be responsible for making sure the landline wires coming into a house work properly as well as organizing calls within the local area. But when someone wants to make a long-distance call, the LEC recognizes this particular customer’s request for connection with a destination that is outside of the local-calling area and sends it to the long-distance carrier. The long-distance carrier then takes over the call and sends it to the communication super-highway so that the call can connect with someone in another area, state, or even country. The long-distance carrier uses the communication super-highway just like an LEC would, the difference being that it focuses only on long-distance service so that it is able to offer much lower rates than LEC’s do. With its special partnerships allowing it to serve calls to destinations all over the United States as well as the whole world, a long-distance carrier is the best and most cost-effective resource for consumers.