Meaning – The term network common carrier, refers to a company that transports goods or people for anyone who is willing to pay, as opposed to a contract carrier that only serves a certain clientele. The term refers to companies like airlines or couriers, but in the context of communication, it can also include telephone companies and internet service providers (ISPs).
These companies, such as airlines, railroads, bus lines, and freight companies serve customers under a regulatory framework. With the rise of net neutrality as a political issue in the 21 century, there were calls to designate ISPs into common carriers, which the U.S. Federal Communications Commission did in 2015 to preserve net neutrality rules.
Example of usage – “The term network common carrier also applies to telecommunications companies. For example, AT&T was designated a common carrier, providing a virtual monopoly on phone service in the U.S. while being required by law to build out its phone network into less profitable rural areas.”