Federal Internet Law & Policy
An Educational Project
Bell Operating Companies Dont be a FOOL; The Law is Not DIY

BOCs are the local telephone operating companies that were created during the breakup of AT&T. Companies that were not a part of the divestiture that should be noted include SNET (now a part of AT&T), GTE (now a part of Verizon), and Cincinnati Bell. As a result of mergers, consolidations, and acquisitions, the list of BOCs has evolved into the following: 22

Owner of the following BOCs24 (names in bold are the original 7 RBOCs)


Bell Atlantic, GTE, The Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company, The Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company of Maryland, The Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company of Virginia, The Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company of West Virginia,

NYNEX, The New York Telephone Company, New England Telephone and Telegraph Company

The Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania, The Diamond State Telephone Company, New Jersey Bell Telephone Company


SBC, Southwestern Bell

Pacific Bell, Nevada Bell, ,

Ameritech: Illinois Bell, Indiana Bell, Michigan Bell, Ohio Bell, and Wisconsin Telephone

BellSouth: Southern Bell, South Central Bell


Centurylink Qwest; US West: Mountain Bell, Northwestern Bell, and Pacific Northwest Bell 26
Cincinnati Bell Cincinnati Bell

Although these companies are responsible for the vast majority of the local access lines,27  there are approximately 1200 other local exchange carriers (LECs).28  These others are not considered BOCs.

Sec. 271 of the Telecom Act of 1996

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 (codified as 47 USC 271) granted BOCs request to be permitted into the long distance market. They had been barred from the long distance market by the Modified Final Judgment. BOCs would be allowed to offer long distance when they had satisfied the FCC that the market for the operating company was competitive. The FCC had a 14 point checklist that BOCs had to satisfy before their petitions would be granted. See FCC Sec. 271 Application Webpage.

  21The FCC approved the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE on June 16, 2000.  FCC Press Release: Federal Communications Commission Approves Bell Atlantic-GTE Merger with Conditions (June 16, 2000).
  22See also Regional Bell Operating Companies <> (accessed April 18, 2000) (listing Regional Bell Operating Companies).
  23“Regional Bell Operating Company (RBOC): One of the seven holding companies formed by divestiture by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company of its local Bell System operating companies, and to which one or more of the Bell System local telephone companies were assigned.”  Federal Standard 1037C (August 7, 1996) <>.  There are only four RBOCs remaining as a result of mergers and acquisitions.
  2447 USC § 153(4).  Note that Cincinnati Bell (Broadwing) and Southern New England Bell (SNET) are not BOCs.
  25One issue is whether SBC’s separate subsidiaries are under Computer Inquiry obligations as a BOC.  In the SBC Ameritech Order, the FCC concluded that SBC could set up a wholly owned advanced services separate subsidiary and that this subsidiary would not be a successor or assign of SBC as an ILEC.  Since the subsidiary was not an ILEC, it would not fall under Sec. 251(c)(4) obligations.  Likewise, it had been argued, since the subsidiary was not SBC, it did not fall under the Computer Inquiries as a BOC.  Nevertheless, on January 9, 2001, the D.C. Circuit overturned the FCC’s Merger Order finding that the subsidiary was not a successor or assign of the ILEC. Assn Comm Ent vs. FCC, No. 99-1441 (D.C. Cir. 01/09/2001) <>.   In other words, the subsidiary is a successor or assign of the ILEC, is under Sec. 251(c)(4) obligations, and, therefore, under Computer Inquiry obligations as a BOC.
  26US West has merged with Qwest, which is not a BOC. In re Qwest Communications International Inc. and US WEST, Inc. Applications for Transfer of Control of Domestic and International Sections 214 and 310 Authorizations and Application to Transfer Control of a Submarine Cable Landing License, Memorandum Opinion and Order, CC Docket No. 99-272, 15 FCC Rcd. 5376 (March 10, 2000).
  27See Y2K Communications Sector Report: Wireline Telecommunications Supplement (October 1999) <> (stating that the seven largest LECs, including SPRINT and GTE, comprise 92 - 94 percent of the local access lines in the country).  See also FCC’s Y2K Communications Sector Report at 31 (March 1999) <>.
  28“The term ‘local exchange carrier’ means any person that is engaged in the provision of telephone exchange service or exchange access.  Such term does not include a person insofar as such person is engaged in the provision of a commercial mobile service under section 332(c) of this title, except to the extent that the Commission finds that such service should be included in the definition of such term.”  47 U.S.C. § 153(26).


© Cybertelecom ::