Telephone Terms

Access Charges
Long distance companies pay local phone companies access charges to use their network for originating and terminating long distance calls. The charges are based on minutes of use. The fees are commonly passed through to customers. Since 1985, the PUC has approved intrastate access pricing on an individual company basis.

Chapter 30
The chapter from the Public Utility Code (Title 66) dealing with Alternative Form of Regulation of Telecommunications Services.

Competitive Local Exchange Carrier are companies competing for local telephone business.

A competing local phone company can locate its equipment within a local exchange company’s (LEC) central office.

Density Cell
A geographic area that is characterized by the number of telephone lines per square mile. In general it is less costly to provide local loops in areas of higher line density.

Extended Loops (EELs)
(Also called enhanced extended loops.) Loops that extend from the end-user directly to a CLEC’s switch.

Federal Communications Commission has the authority to regulate all interstate communications originating in the United States. The FCC is run by a five member board appointed by the President.

Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier is your present local phone company, like Bell Atlantic, Sprint/United, or GTE.

Telecommunications services that originate and end in the same Local Access and Transport Area. Some "local" phone companies’ LATAs are very large and provide the equivalent of long distance service.

Telecommunications services that originate in one and terminate in another Local Access and Transport Area (LATA).

Interexchange Carrier. A telephone company that is allowed to provide long-distance telephone service between LATAs or across state lines.

Lifeline Service
A minimal telephone service designed for the poor and elderly to assure they can be reached by phone and have a "lifeline" to the world in case of emergency. The basic rate of this limited service is less than standard rates.

Local Loop
The physical wires that run from the subscriber’s telephone set, or PBX or key telephone system, to the telephone company’s central office or switch.

Operations Support Systems (OSS)
Operations support systems are the mechanized and manual systems used by Bell and other local phone companies to provide services to customers, such as order entry, assignment of facilities, maintenance, repair and billing.

The federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires Bell to provide access to its OSS, to provide the documentation and support necessary for CLECs to access and use the system, and to demonstrate that its systems are operationally ready and provide an appropriate level of performance for CLECs to enlist customers and complete all functions for its customers.

Price Change Opportunity (PCO)
The revenue created by changes in the factors and assumptions used to determine Bell Atlantic’s rates for local service.

Reciprocal Compensation
Telephone companies pay each other to terminate local telephone calls.

Telecommunications Act of 1996 (TA-96)
Federal legislation enacted in 1996 to promote competition and reduce regulation in order to secure lower priced and higher quality services for American telecommunications consumers and encourage the rapid deployment of new telecommunications technologies. The Act gave various powers to FCC and states to accomplish these goals.

Unbundled Network Elements (UNE)
The term 'network element' means a facility or equipment used in the provision of a telecommunications service. Such term also includes features, functions, and capabilities that are provided by means of such facility or equipment, including subscriber numbers, databases, signaling systems, and information sufficient for billing and collection or used in the transmission, routing, or other provision of a telecommunications service. Unbundling means that CLECs may lease individual parts of the network.

Unbundled Network Element Platform (UNE-P)
A combination of elements including the local loop and switching.

Universal Service
Service provided to every household with at least one access line for basic telephone services.