When the federal government deregulated the local exchange market in 1997, the idea was that business users would benefit through greater choice and lower pricing. Two years later though, local exchange competition remained more of a buzz word than a reality. Businesses could choose from between two or maybe three local providers, but the hoped-for flood of competitors into the market remained a pipe dream.

Finally, on the eve of the millennium, the Canadian local exchange market is becoming more interesting. Numerous competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) have sprung up or expanded their operations over the last several months to give the incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) some real competition. Business users should finally be able to cut significantly better telecommunications deals than in the past. But with greater choice comes greater risk and responsibility for corporate network decision makers. If a business is leaving an ILEC, it needs to make sure not only that it is getting the best deal possible, but that it is moving to a service provider as reliable as the one the firm is leaving.

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