NEW YORK (AP) - Phone company ads proclaimed "Bring your number up to speed" and "Your number on America's best wireless network" as new rules went into effect Monday letting consumers switch cell phone service without switching their phone numbers.
The long-awaited rule change, which some called "wireless emancipation," set off a scramble as customers shopped for the best deals and started making the switch without having to change their phone number every time they change carriers.
The rule change also set off a marketing blitz by cell phone companies anxious to keep existing customers and snare new ones from rivals. Forecasts vary, but millions of cell users are expected to switch wireless services over the next year under the new rule.
The nation's two biggest providers, Verizon Wireless and Cingular Wireless, reported brisk activity at stores and on sales phone lines.
The new federal regulations also allow consumers to move their home landline phone number to a cellular phone.