Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (ILEC)

Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers, ILEC’s are the former “Baby Bells” of the AT&T monopoly. In the early 1980s, the U.S. government forced AT&T to break up into seven smaller local phone companies. And in 1996, the Federal Communications Commission forced these seven local phone companies, known as the Baby Bells, to open up their networks to outside competition. The result was the creation of two new regulatory terms, ILEC and CLEC (see CLEC).