The Federal Communications Commission has revealed the winners of its latest wireless spectrum auction and as expected, AT&T was the biggest spender. Interestingly enough, it was Dish Network – not Verizon – that finished in second place in terms of money spent.

AT&T scooped up 251 licenses for use in the coveted Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) airwaves, shelling out a whopping $18.2 billion. The company boasted that as a result of the acquisition, they now cover 96 percent of the US population with AWS-3 spectrum.

The spectrum grab will no doubt be vital in AT&T’s efforts to stay ahead of customer demand. While $18.2 billion may seem like an exuberant amount of money to spend, one must realize how critical spectrum is to a network’s success and how quickly demand has shot up.

To put things into perspective, AT&T said mobile data traffic on its national wireless network increased 100,000 percent from January 2007 through December 2014.

Dish Network took home the proverbial silver medal with $13.3 billion in spectrum winnings through its two auction entities, SNR Wireless and Northstar Wireless. It’s worth point out that Dish Network took advantage of discounts aimed at small businesses so it’ll only have to pay about $10 billion for the 700 licenses it committed to purchasing.

Other big winners include Verizon with 181 licenses for $10.4 billion and T-Mobile which paid $1.8 billion for 151 licenses. Sprint didn't participate in the auction. 

The top three winners collectively accounted for 93 percent of the auction’s total proceeds.

All said and done, 31 winning bidders out of an eligible 70 snapped up a total of 1,611 licenses. Final payments are due March 2, 2015.