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CAPs (Competitive Access Providers)

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Note: Many topics at this site are reduced versions of the text in "The Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunications." Search results will not be as extensive as a search of the book's CD-ROM.

A CAP is a service provider that provides LEC (local exchange carrier) services and other data services. An LEC is a telephone company that operates within a local area called the LATA (Local Access and Transport Area). The ILECs (Incumbent LECs) are the result of the breakup of AT&T in 1984, which created seven independent RBOCs (Regional Bell Operating Companies) in the U.S. These included Pacific Bell, NYNEX, GTE and others, but mergers and consolidations have changed the original gang of seven. Most ILECs operate across a number of LATAs.

The CAPs (Competitive Access Providers) and CLECs (Competitive LECs) compete with the ILECs in the same service areas. Any nonincumbent carrier is called an ITO (Independent Telephone Company), but some ITO operate area where they do not compete with ILECs.

The IXCs (Interexchange Carriers) provide inter-LATA service (basically long-distance service). Common IXCs are AT&T and MCI Worldcom. More recently, the CLECs are morphing into what are called ICPs (Integrated Communications Providers), which provide a variety of "New Public Network" services including, including Web hosting, and Internet access.

Refer to "Service Providers and Carriers" for a more complete discussion of service providers.

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