"Regulators ruled late on Tuesday that U.S. telephone incumbents would no longer be required to offer local and long distance services through separate entities, which could mean big savings for America’s regional telephone providers." [Source: Teleclick]
From Phone+: "The FCC on Feb. 20 voted 4-0, concurring that Qwest no longer is the dominant carrier in its 14-state region and that it faces intense competition from VoIP, wireless and cable providers. Under a now-expired provision in the 1996 Telecommunications Act, Bell companies were required to run their long-distance businesses separate from their other operations. Qwest had argued it needed to combine its local and long-distance operations to save money and become a stronger competitor. .... The country’s third-largest RBOC filed its forbearance petition with the FCC more than a year ago; Feb. 20 was the deadline for a decision by the commission."