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CLECs Think Small

11:25 AM -- Weren't the competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) killed off in the late 1990s, after the Internet bubble popped? Apparently not, according to new info from the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA).

The TIA, in a report released today, says incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) have been hurt further by the migration of local customers to CLECs.

"At the end of 2003, there were 29.6 million CLEC access lines, compared to 24.8 million the prior year, a 19.3 percent increase," the report says. "The CLEC share of local access lines rose to 16.3 percent in 2003 from only 4.3 percent in 1999."

Of course, CLECs will have a tougher time competing thanks to new rules for network element pricing, so RBOCs still have a big advantage.

But the TIA says that the number of reporting CLECs (with at least 10,000 lines in any state) increased by two thirds, from 81 in 1999 to 135 in 2003, so the group is far from dead.

Though not dead, the CLEC's target market is changing as RBOCs and IXCs are winning more large business accounts. "Residential/small business lines accounted for 63.3 percent of CLEC lines in 2003," the TIA report says. "By contrast, in 1999 almost 60 percent of CLEC lines were for large-business access."

— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

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