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AT&T wins FCC approval of $1.2B deal for Leap Wireless

Deal for prepaid wireless provider includes pledges of spectrum divestiture and feature phone trade-in programs for certain customers.

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Lynn La/CNET

AT&T's $1.2 billion acquisition of prepaid wireless provider Leap Wireless and the Cricket brand won the approval of the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday.

The deal, announced last July, now needs only the approval of the US Justice Department to be completed. The wireless giant has agreed to pay $15 a share in cash for Leap's wireless network, which covers about 96 million people in 35 states.

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.