Technical Terms and Definitions

CLEC - Hardware

(pronounced see-lek) A Competitive Local Exchange Carrier is a telephone company that competes with an Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (ILEC) such as a Regional Bell Operating Company (RBOC), GTE, ALLNET, etc. With the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, there has been an explosion in the number of CLECs. The Act allows companies with CLEC status to use ILEC infrastructure in two ways: 1) Access to UNEs Important to CLEC telecommunications networking is the availability of unbundled network elements or UNEs (through a collocation arrangement). UNEs are defined by the Act as any "facility or equipment used in the provision of a telecommunications service," as well as "features, functions, and capabilities that are provided by means of such facility or equipment." For CLECs the most important UNE available to them is the local loop, which connects the ILEC switches to the ILEC's present customers. With the local loop, CLECs will be able to connect their switches with the ILEC's switches, thus giving them access to ILEC customers. 2) Resale Another option open to CLECs is the resale strategy. The Act states that any telecommunications services ILECs offer at retail, must be offered to CLECs at a wholesale discount. This saves the CLEC from having to invest in switches, fiber optic transmission facilities, or collocation arrangements. In any case, a CLEC may decide on one or the other or even both. So, you can see why obtaining CLEC status is very beneficial, especially for ISPs, who may easily get access to the copper loops and other switching elements necessary to provide xDSL services. Recently courts, in response to the growth of cable Internet access, have also required cable companies to follow the same guidelines as ILECs. Applying for CLEC status is a very tedious and complex process that involves a Regulatory Attorney or Consultant, the State Public Utilities Commission, and about 50 other steps. But remember, it will be worth it, and now is a good time, because the courts continually are trying to force ILEC costs to CLECs down and are making access to UNEs easier in the name of fair competition. So, get in before regulators begin to re-regulate the other way.