NEW YORK (Reuters) - Verizon Wireless dividend payments may be lean going forward as the venture of Verizon Communications Inc and Vodafone Group Plc conserves cash to pay down debt and prepare for a spectrum auction, a top Verizon Communications executive said on Tuesday.

Verizon Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo told analysts during an investor conference the wireless venture would use cash to pay down $5 billion in debt due at the end of this year and early next year.

It also plans to prepare for a U.S. auction of wireless airwaves that could take place as soon as 2014, Shammo said. He spoke a day after Verizon Wireless announced a $7 billion dividend that compared to $18.5 billion of payouts made in two installments in 2012.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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