"Carrier preselect" is a term that is commonly employed to identify the ability to select different types of telephony services in advance of actually using them. While the exact meaning of the term varies slightly in different countries, this type of preselection option is often associated with identifying how calls placed or received by the subscriber are routed across different networks owned by multiple carriers. This can have an impact on issues such as who a subscriber chooses as his or her long-distance service provider, rather than finding it necessary to use a provider that is intimately associated with the local telephone service provider.
The concept of carrier preselect emerged in the latter part of the 20th century, as more countries implemented a process with telecommunications that was known as deregulation. Prior to that time, subscribers typically made use of the vendor partners utilized by the local telephone company, and had no real options for services such as long distance. As more and more nations began to implement legislation that broke monopolies for services such as long distance and conference calling, subscribers were able to choose specific services from a number of different providers. While many local telephone companies continued to offer access to services offered by former monopolies, and in some cases used those as defaults if customers did not designate otherwise, this ability to pick and choose from a roster of providers servicing the area helped to increase competition and allowed consumers to take more control over their telecommunications costs.
One of the major benefits of carrier preselect is the incidence of what is known as local loop unbundling. This simply means that rather than being limited to one or only a few service packages available through the local telephone company, subscribers could pick and choose, tailoring a program to meet their needs. For example, a large corporation that utilizes a considerable amount of long distance services could effectively manage those costs by entering into a volume purchase agreement with a particular long distance provider, rather than using the standard rates offered through the former monopoly LD provider for the area. In like manner, the corporation may find that utilizing an independent conference call provider, rather than using the conferencing tools provided by the local telephone provider or the long distance carrier of choice may be more cost effective.
The real value of carrier preselect is the ability of consumers to pick and choose who will provide them with certain types of telecommunications services. In many metropolitan areas, the range of options is extensive. Even in more rural areas, there are often at least a few alternatives that consumers can consider rather than simply relying on all service routed through a single provider. Thanks to modern technology, making use of carrier preselect no longer means using complicated dialing codes to reach provider networks, as was sometimes the case in the latter decades of the 20th century. Often, there is no code at all to add to the basic telephone number, with the call automatically routed based on the point of origin.