WASHINGTON (AP) _ SBC Communications Inc.'s takeover of the main local phone company in Connecticut was approved by federal regulators Friday.

The Federal Communications Commission's action removes the last major regulatory hurdle to SBC's acquisition of Southern New England Telephone Company, a deal originally valued at $4.4 billion when announced in January.

SBC said it plans to close the transaction next week.

The FCC, in a statement, concluded that the merger is ``unlikely to have any anti-competitive effects'' on U.S. consumers or businesses.

As a result, the commission did not require the companies to take any additional steps as a condition of receiving federal regulatory approval.

``We are very pleased,'' SBC Chairman Edward Whitacre Jr. said in a statement. ``We are anxious to begin delivering real benefits to the customers of SNET, its employees and to communities throughout Connecticut.''

The transaction with SNET would give SBC a foothold in a market now dominated by Bell Atlantic Corp., a regional Bell, whose local phone territory stretches from Maine to Virginia but does not include Connecticut.

San Antonio-based SBC, is also a regional Bell and is the major local phone provider in two Western and five central states. It is seeking to merge with yet another Bell, Ameritech Corp., which is the main local phone company in five Midwestern states.

The FCC is reviewing that planned merger. If it is cleared, SBC would be operating in 13 states.

SBC had previously merged with Pacific Telesis, a regional Bell that provided local phone service in California and Connecticut.

SNET executives have said that the dominance of giant telecommunications companies forced tiny SNET, the nation's oldest local telephone company, to look for outside help.