A telephone company (or telco) provides telecommunications services such as telephony and data communications. Most of the largest telcos, whatever their origins, are or were at one time nationalized or state-regulated monopolies. These monopolies are often referred to, primarily in Europe, as PTTs.
Telcos are also known as common carriers, and in the United States as local exchange carriers. With the advent of cellular telephony, telcos now include wireless carriers, or network operators.
Most telcos now also function as internet service providers (ISPs), and the distinction between telco and ISP may disappear completely over time, as the current trend for supplier convergence in the industry continues.
Telephone companies have a range of sizes. Microtelco is a small-scale telecom operator that combine local entrepreneurship, new business models, and low-cost technologies to offer ICT services in areas of little interest to large operators. See Village telco