The landmark breakup of the AT&T monopoly in 1984 has provided unprecedented choices for consumers and businesses alike. No longer are customers tied to only one source for making local and long distance calls. Because of the myriad of choices now available, costs for making calls have dropped significantly over the last two decades.
More choices, however, often result in more confusion to consumers – especially for those unfamiliar with the telecom structure, terms and, ultimately, the options that are now available to them.
Topics of confusion that still exist for many are LATA, IntraLATA and InterLATA. Your understanding of these terms and how they apply to your calling patterns can make a significant difference in your monthly bills.
What is a LATA?
A LATA (Local Access and Transport Area) is a geographical area that is the responsibility of one of the Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs). These “boundaries” were established after the breakup of AT&T in 1984. LATA boundaries tend to be drawn around markets, and not necessarily along existing state, province, or even area code borders.
(To determine the exact LATA boundaries in your calling area, consult your local telephone directory.)
IntraLATA refers to a telephone call or circuit which does not cross a LATA boundary. IntraLATA communications require the assistance of the Local Exchange Carrier, but not the IXC (InterXchange Carrier).
It is important to understand, however, that IntraLATA calls can either be classified as a “local” call, or a local toll call (i.e. long distance call) by your carrier. The difference between the two has been a source of much confusion over the years.
Because IntraLATA long distance is not subject to the same competitive market forces as InterLATA (and interstate) long distance, IntraLATA long distance calls normally cost more.
Consumers generally believe that calls that originate close to one another should be less expensive than calls made from further distances. In response to this fact, many carriers now offer calling plans that essentially make IntraLATA calling roughly the same price as a local call.
These calling packages are generally more suited for customers who make a large amount of IntraLATA calls per month. Line charges are generally much higher, so it is best to thoroughly understand the advantages and disadvantages of such a plan before signing a contract.
InterLATA (InterLATA and Interstate) Calls
InterLATA calls refer to those that originate within one LATA and terminate in another. It is this type of call that is most referred to as a “long distance” call. Because InterLATA communications do cross LATA boundaries, they do require the help of an IXC (InterXchange Carrier) to be completed.
It is the InterLATA and Interstate portion of the marketplace where competition really flourished throughout the 1990’s. Prices for Interstate calls have dropped significantly and carriers now offer a wide variety of billing options, including 6 second (and even 1 second) billing increments.
As with all aspects of choosing the appropriate telecom services, it makes sense to know ALL of your options before making any long term commitments. For more assistance, consult a reliable and established telecom consultant to help guide you to the right choices for your business.