Verizon is one of the companies that spent billions of dollars to secure a U.S. wireless license
AT&T Inc. spent $ 18.2 billion in the latest sale of U.S. wireless licenses, easily topping other bidders and capping a yearlong spending spree that has raised concerns the telecom giant is getting stretched.
Satellite broadcaster Dish Network Corp. DISH, -1.86% , a newcomer to the wireless industry, also participated aggressively in the spectrum auction, bidding in partnerships and racking up a total of $ 13.3 billion, Federal Communications Commission data show.
Verizon Communications Inc. VZ, +0.67% spent $ 10.4 billion. T-Mobile US Inc. spent $ 1.8 billion.
The commitment by AT&T T, +1.02% comes after the $ 49 billion takeover of satellite broadcaster DirecTV DTV, +0.61% announced last spring and a pair of acquisitions that will give the Dallas-based company a big footprint in Mexico. The bill for all those deals and the spectrum sale comes to more than $ 70 billion at a time when AT&T is already stretching to generate enough cash each year to cover its dividend and investments in its networks.
Last year, the company produced about $ 10 billion in so-called free cash flow–the cash generated by its operations, minus capital expenditures–according to analysts at New Street Research. That was about $ 1 billion less than the company said it would bring in.
AT&T said this week it expects to have more breathing room in 2015 as spending drops.