Local Access and Transport Area

What is a Local Access and Transport Area?

A Local Access and Transport Area (LATA) is a location where a local exchange carrier (LEC) operates. It’s the geographic locale for telephone companies to provide telecommunication services. 

Many carriers refer to LATAs under different names for customer convenience, such as “Service Area” or “Regional Calling Area.” 

Why should you care about local access and transport areas? 

Local access and transport areas do not necessarily align with state or county borders. They also don’t line up perfectly with area codes either. 

The areas are based primarily on markets and where telephony subscribers reside. Originally, the country had 245 LATAs, each housing approximately one million subscribers. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 defined the borders for local access and transport areas. 

Understanding how LATAs work requires some backstory into the United States telephony system. When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, he began the Bell Telephone Company. Bell, who later rebranded to the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, or known today as AT&T, originally held a monopoly on telecommunications in the country. 

Antitrust regulations like the Modification of Final Judgment (MFJ) later broke this monopoly into smaller organizations known as regional Bell operating companies (RBOCs) in 1982 to encourage competition. Each RBOC could provide service only within a local access and transport area — it could not offer services across LATAs. 

LATA borders used to associate with individual RBOCs. For instance: 

  • NYNEX covered the New York and New England regions. 
  • Bell Atlantic covered the Mid-Atlantic states like Delaware, D.C., Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. 
  • Ameritech served the Great Lakes region. 
  • BellSouth covered the Southeast United States. 
  • Southwestern Bell covered the South-central region of the country. 
  • US West covered the Northwest and Midwest states, as well as the Rocky Mountains. 
  • Pacific Bell covered the states of California and Nevada. 

However, looser telephony regulations and new acquisitions and mergers have blurred the lines among these regions. And a few miscellaneous areas, typically with area codes starting with 8 or 9, are also evolved despite not having an associated RBOC.  

What are the benefits of Mobile Network Operators? 

Local Access and Transport Areas (LATAs) or operational locales for local exchange carriers (LECs), play a crucial role in defining telecommunication service boundaries, ensuring efficient market segmentation. Despite not aligning with state or county borders, LATAs were established to encourage healthy competition among regional Bell operating companies (RBOCs), shaping the telecommunications landscape as we know it today. 

How does Sinch work with local access and transport areas? 

Sinch has partnerships and connections with the many local access and transport areas throughout the United States. Our voice services provide companies with access to powerful voice solutions, omnichannel engagement, and world-class support. 

Are you looking to purchase numbers in a specific region in the US? Contact us today to see how easy it is with the right partner.