Definition[edit | edit source]

A telephone company (also referred to as a telco or telecommunications operator) is a provider of telecommunications services such as telephony and data communications.

Overview[edit | edit source]

Most of the largest telcos outside the United States, whatever their origins, are or were at one time nationalized or state-regulated monopolies. These monopolies are often referred to, primarily in Europe, as PTTs.

Telcos are also known as common carriers, and in the United States as local exchange carriers. With the advent of cellular telephony, telcos now include wireless carriers, or mobile network operators.

Most telcos now also function as internet service providers (ISPs), and the distinction between telco and ISP may disappear completely over time, as the current trend for supplier convergence in the industry continues.


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