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Short for Optical Local Exchange Carrier, a telephone company that uses a fiber-optic system as opposed to traditional passive, twisted-pair copper wires to connect equipment at the customer premises to carrier facilities. Optical access increases access-network bandwidth by up to several gigabits per second, which is an important development in data communication services. The copper wire system creates a bottleneck in the access network, which slows down the rate of data transfer and is therefore not able to support activities that need ultrahigh bandwidths, such as high-quality videoconferencing, large file transfers, data mirroring and data-storage warehousing.

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