Local Exchange Company. A company that provides local telecommunications services within specific territories known as Local Access and Transport Areas (LATAs). Those companies that existed before the Telecommunications Act of 1996 are identified as Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (ILECs). Companies formed to compete with ILECs after passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 are called Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs). These companies only handle local calls, leaving long-distance calls to Interexchange Carriers (IXCs).