Yesterday, in an important ruling that may boost the competitiveness of cable-based and other providers of voiceover- Internet protocol (VoIP) services, the FCC declared that wholesale telecommunications carriers that provide service to VoIP and other carriers are entitled to interconnect and exchange phone traffic with incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs). The decision responds to a petition for declaratory ruling filed by Time Warner Cable (TWC), which had purchased wholesale services from MCI WorldCom and Sprint to facilitate the transmission of TWC VoIP calls over the public switched telephone network. TWC, however, turned to the FCC after regulators in two states—South Carolina and Nebraska—determined that rural ILECs were not obligated to provide interconnection to wholesalers with which TWC had signed contracts. Observing that the 1996 Telecommunications Act “does not differentiate between retail and wholesale services,” the FCC concluded that the right to interconnect with ILECs extends to wholesalers and warned that a decision to the contrary would “impede the important development of wholesale telecommunications and facilities-based VoIP competition, as well as broadband deployment policies developed and implemented by the Commission over the past decade.” In a written statement, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin proclaimed that the decision “will enhance consumers’ choice for phone service by making clear that cable and other VoIP providers must be able to use local phone numbers and be allowed to put calls through to other phone networks.” Similarly, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association praised the FCC’s order as one that “sends a strong statement that cable’s VoIP telephone service must be permitted to deliver to consumers . . . the benefits and savings brought by facilitiesbased competition.”