WASHINGTON (AP) _ The nation's largest regional telephone company asked the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday to stop states from regulating Internet services.

Bell Atlantic Corp. also wants the FCC to let it build high-speed networks to carry Internet traffic in its local phone region, which stretches from Maine to Virginia.

The company's filing to the FCC is the latest salvo in the race between cable and telephone companies to become major players in the Internet business.

Cable's high-speed Internet connections, as well as those from other non-telephone companies, aren't regulated. In addition, cable companies don't require FCC permission to build high-speed networks. Bell Atlantic said it believes the regulatory relief, if granted, would speed deployment of high-speed data services to the public.

While the FCC has no role in regulating the price of these high-speed data services offered by telephone companies, Bell Atlantic wants the FCC to step in to pre-empt state rules.

These consumer services include special high-speed telephone lines called ISDN, for integrated services digital network, and a lightning-quick phone line using a developing technology called ADSL, or asymmetrical digital subscriber line.

Neither the FCC nor state regulators had immediate comment on Bell Atlantic's request.

``We simply believe that it would be helpful to consumers for us to be able to enter the Internet marketplace and ... have the same rules as everybody else,'' Bell Atlantic senior vice president Tom Tauke said in an interview.

The 1996 Telecommunications Act, which deregulated the communications industries, gave the FCC power to pre-empt state regulations that impede competition.