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AT&T completes $1.2B acquisition of Leap Wireless

Deal's closure comes after the FCC gave its approval to the takeover of the prepaid wireless provider.

CNET/Marguerite Reardon

AT&T announced late Thursday that it had completed its $1.2 billion acquisition of prepaid wireless provider Leap Wireless and the Cricket brand.

The deal, announced last July, was granted approval earlier Thursday by the Federal Communications Commission. Because the US Justice Department did not raise any antitrust objections, the carrier closed the deal Thursday afternoon after receiving the FCC's blessing.

While the FCC said it had concerns about the deal's impact on competition, the commission said those concerns were mitigated by AT&T's plans to deploy LTE service on used Leap spectrum and pledges to divest itself of spectrum in certain markets.

The carrier has also agreed to LTE service in six markets in south Texas within 18 months as well as offering special rate plans to Lifeline customers and feature phone trade-in programs for Leap customers prior to phasing out CDMA.

The wireless giant has agreed to pay $15 a share in cash for Leap's wireless network, which covers about 97 million people in 35 states. As part of the agreement, AT&T will get Leap's wireless properties, including its licenses, network assets, and stores, as well as its subscribers, which number around 5 million.

AT&T said it plans to relaunch the Cricket brand, giving customers access to its nationwide 4G LTE network. The carrier said it expects to complete customer migration to the new Cricket in about 18 months.