A telephone company, also known as a telco, telephone service provider, or telecommunications operator, is a kind of communications service provider (CSP), more precisely a telecommunications service provider (TSP), that provides telecommunications services such as telephony and data communications access. Many telephone companies were at one time government agencies or privately owned but state-regulated monopolies. The government agencies are often referred to, primarily in Europe, as PTTs (postal, telegraph and telephone services).
Telephone companies are common carriers, and in the United States are also called local exchange carriers. With the advent of mobile telephony, telephone companies now include wireless carriers, or mobile network operators.
Most telephone companies now also function as internet service providers (ISPs), and the distinction between a telephone company and an ISP may disappear completely over time, as the current trend for supplier convergence in the industry continues.
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