We don't know who, and we don't yet know who's going to wind up paying for it, but we do know that the C-Block of the FCC's 700MHz bandwidth auction has been bid above the reserve price of $4.6 billion. That means the FCC's open access clause has kicked in, meaning no matter who winds up winning the coveted parcel of free spectrum, we'll all stand to benefit from the mandate that a section of it be opened up to any and all compatible devices.
Google had previously gone on the record as saying they were planning to bid the C-Block at least up to the reserve price, but due to the FCC's anonymous bidder policy we won't know who actually bid what until after the auction block has closed. Analysts and pundits have largely predicted a bidding war between Google and Verizon for this most coveted of the spectrum blocks currently on auction.
According to RCR Wireless News, Optimal Markets Inc. has calculated that the current bid of $4.7 billion translates to 76 cents per megahertz/potential customer covered, based on the C-Block's 22 megahertz of spectrum covering all 50 US states. By way of comparison, "regional licenses won during the advanced wireless services auction fetched between 9 cents per MHz/pop covering Alaska to $1.21 per MHz/pop covering the Northeast."
Either way, the Open Access provision means that when the dust has cleared and the networks have been rolled out, us lowly American consumers will be that much closer to truly open wireless networks. You can just hear the phone phreaks dancing in the streets, can't you?
Get the nitty gritty details at RCR Wireless News from here.