Long-distance phone provider MCI Communications asked regulators in five states on Monday to let it start providing local phone service. MCI Metro, a subsidiary of MCI, filed requests to serve customers in Washington, Maryland, Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania. The move would put the firm in direct competition with regional phone companies that hold near-monopolies in those states. If the regulators approve, it could help lower your phone bill eventually, since competition tends to drive rates down. Don't count your discounts yet, though. Regional phone companies like Ameritech in the Midwest are complaining about the MCI proposal, saying that if MCI gets to offer local service, the regionals should be able to jump into the long-distance market, something they're currently forbidden from doing.