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The language of the telecom world is one of strained acronyms that takes even the sharpest linguist time to master. But with the help of this handy glossary, you too will be able to make your way through the halls of the Federal Communications Commission without feeling like you’ve just wandered into a remote village in Papua New Guinea. Baby Bells: Originally, the seven regional Bell companies that emerged from the 1984 breakup of AT&T Corp. Today, after nearly 20 years of consolidation, only four remain: BellSouth Corp., Qwest Communications International Inc., SBC Communications Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. Prior to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Baby Bells provided nearly all of the country’s local telephone service. CLECs (“see-lecks”): Competitive Local Exchange Carriers. The companies that sprang up in the wake of the 1996 act. Initially, most CLECs offered only local telephone service. Today, however, many CLECs that have weathered the telecom meltdown offer other services, like high-speed Internet access. ILECs (“eye-lecks”): Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers. Synonymous with “Baby Bells.” InterLATA service (“inter-lah-tah”): Service that routes a call from one local market, i.e., Local Access Transport Area, to another. In other words, long-distance service. IntraLATA service (“intra-lah-tah”): Service that routes a call from one point within a Local Access Transport Area to another point. In other words, local telephone service. IXCs: Interexchange Carriers. Carriers that carry a call from one exchange (or LATA) to another. In other words, long-distance providers like AT&T Corp., WorldCom Inc. and Sprint Corp. PUCs: State Public Utility Commissions. Agencies that regulate the telecommunications industry on a state level. PUC regulations complement FCC regulations. RBOCs (“ar-bocks”): Regional Bell Operating Carriers. See “ILECs,” or “Baby Bells.” UNEs (“you-nees”): Unbundled Network Elements. The portions of the Bells’ networks that they are required to lease to competitors. The Bells want the FCC to limit these elements and raise the leasing rates they may charge for each element. UNE-P (“you-nee-pee”): Unbundled Network Element Platform. UNE-P is a packaged combination of several UNEs. A carrier that leases UNE-P is typically able to provide service without needing facilities of its own. The Bells want the FCC to either eliminate UNE-P altogether or at least limit the number of elements included in the platform. AT&T, WorldCom and many CLECs rely heavily on UNE-P to serve their local customers and are trying to dissuade the FCC from making any changes.

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