What is a carrier service? To put it simply, a carrier is a term commonly used to describe a company that provides telecommunications services to the general public. These services are almost always voice or data. This can be done via telephones (traditional wired lines or mobile) or satellites or even wirelessly with Wi-Fi. Carrier services, also known as telecommunications service provider or TSPs, can also include incumbent local exchange carriers, competitive local exchange carriers, in addition to mobile and other wireless communication companies.
Some would argue that the terms “telecom service provider” and “communications service provider” should not be used interchangeably. That the term “telecom service provider” automatically excludes Internet service providers, cable companies, satellite TV, and other managed service providers. To some extent they used to right, but the blending of what many different companies offer has changed so much that the two have become pretty much synonymous. People can receive television service, landline phone service, and mobile phone service from the same company. Many companies like Comcast and AT&T encourage this through offering bundled packages for discounts.
Decades ago, outside of the United States, most carrier services were owned and operated by the governments of the nations in which the communications network resided. This was mostly due to the sheer expense of installing and maintaining these systems. Within the United States the telecommunications network was owned and operated by a single, authorized, monopoly known as the Bell Telephone Company. Much of the expenditure of installing the system nationwide was offset by being the only company people could use for phone service.
Today most of the government owned companies are now private corporations. This has helped to create a multitude of private companies all over the world like Verizon, AT&T and Sprint. Few of us can go anywhere without seeing some sort of advertisement for these companies. As providers, these companies typically own the proprietary network infrastructure known as a carrier network. Regulatory agencies authorize these telecommunications service providers to operate these networks and various other telecommunications systems.
Most of these carrier networks are quite large and quite complex. Much of their hardware is interconnected. This then allows carriers the ability to provide a multitude of communications services. These services are able to be spread to people all over different geographic areas, regardless of where those people are located.
There are specific device types that carrier networks serve, however telephony equipment is the most prevalent. The most common items are personal computers and mobiles phones/tablets, though community access television (commonly referred to as CATV) receivers and satellite television receivers are also serviced by carrier networks. Even surveillance and medical equipment are served by these networks; however the medical equipment in question will almost always be specialized.
A carrier network needs to be able to distribute a massive quantity data, and because of an ever increasing demand this data needs to be sent over larger regions and greater distances. Due to this need the typical medium for transmitting these signals is fiber optics. Some carriers still have networks that utilize copper cable but this usage is becoming less and less common in more urban areas. In rural areas it is not unusual for end users to rely on the traditional twisted pair copper telephone lines in order to access the Internet. In other words the more rural the area the greater likelihood of having to use dial-up.
What Carrier Services Offer
As mentioned before, carrier services no longer offer just phone service; rather they offer an entire suite of services, including fixed-network services and mobile phone service and tablets. Fixed-network services include data retail, Internet retail, voice retail and wholesale.
Carrier services rarely differentiate between the various types of traffic that will be carried by these services. Regardless of the type of transmission, (and there are many: non-voice data, image, video, fax, interactive services, and voice) that will be transmitted the signal will be transmitted without prejudice. Many carriers do not care if the origin of the transmission is analog or digital in format. The user’s experience may change based on their own devices, but the carrier service will transmit the signal regardless and at the speed that is being paid for.
Speeds of transmittal may vary. Not for phone service, but mobile phones may have a data choke point that is part of the cell phone plan. Many carrier services that offer cable internet will have two to three speeds that customers can contract to use. The only time this may affect voice is if a user utilizes calls over Wi-Fi.
Service Carriers are Everywhere
You may be realizing by now that you knew far more about carrier services than you realized. Dealing with these companies has become a part of daily life.