Verizon was the top spender in a recent US auction of 3.5GHz spectrum, but Dish Network walked away from the sale with nearly ten-times as many licences for less than half of what its rival paid.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) revealed Verizon spent $1.9 billion on 557 licences, while Dish Network (participating as Wetterhorn Wireless) shelled out $912.9 million for 5,492.

Three cable companies rounded out the top spenders: Charter Communications (through Spectrum Wireless Holdings) bid $464.2 million on 210 licences; Comcast (XF Wireless Investment) $458.7 million for 830; and Cox Communications $212.8 million on 470.

Cable companies previously expressed a desire to use the spectrum to reduce costs from their mobile MVNOs by boosting Wi-Fi offload capabilities.

T-Mobile US trailed far behind, spending $5.58 million on eight licences, while AT&T left empty handed.

The FCC previously announced the sale brought in a total of $4.6 billion, with 20,625 of 22,631 licences available sold.

In the US, the 3.5GHz band (known as the Citizens Broadband Radio Service or CBRS) is shared between commercial and government users, and split into licensed and unlicensed tiers.

Unlicensed access was opened in January, but the recent sale was the first access to licensed.

A further sale of mid-band spectrum spanning 3.7GHz to 4.2GHz is set to begin on 8 December.