How much are YOU getting charged to auction the spectrum off to the carriers? I don't get it.
Where do you think the carriers get the money to participate in these auctions?
Personally I think the US couldn't be going faster in the wrong direction. Rather then allowing another spectrum to be bough up the US Govt should be selecting a single 4G spectrum and forcing all Telco's to use that one spectrum. Now before the Randroids come in with their "OMG Socialism" rants let me explain. This will create more competition in the market and make things easier for you, the consumer. Right now if you buy a Verizon phone, you are stuck on the Verizon network no, even if you pay the ETF you still cant use that phone anywhere else. If you want to switch to AT&T's 3G services you need a phone that works on the AT&T freq. Picking one freq allows you to buy a handset from any carrier or even a retail store and use it with any carrier. This will also allow for the creation of better MVNO's and smaller local carriers.
Technically, a Verizon handset will work on Sprint, US Cellular, Cricket, etc. The reason you can't actually do this, with the exception of Cricket and some MVNOs, is that the major carriers refuse to allow devices with serial #s that aren't already in their system to be activated with their service. However, the reason you can't use a Verizon, Sprint, or USCC handset on AT&T or T-Mobile's networks isn't just because they operate on different frequencies, but because they use different, incompatible, communication standards.
I don't agree that the government should force everyone to use a single standard for cellular radio communications. However, I would like to at least be able to use devices I already own on services they are already compatible with. I don't expect the carrier to provide any support for my devices, but they shouldn't be blocking their use for arbitrary reasons either..