News Release from Congresswoman Matsui’s Office:


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Congresswoman Doris Matsui - CA Dist. 6

Congresswoman Doris Matsui – CA Dist. 6

Congresswoman Matsui and Senator Udall Introduce Legislation to Spur Breakthroughs in Spectrum Efficiency
Spectrum Challenge Prize Act Would Encourage Wireless Innovation

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) introduced legislation to create the first ever federal spectrum challenge prize. This would award up to $5 million for breakthrough wireless technologies that dramatically improve spectrum efficiency.

Spectrum has become an increasingly scarce and valuable resource due to a growing demand from the modern mobile economy and a limited amount of spectrum that has not already been licensed to companies. A recent federal spectrum license auction generated over $40 billion in bids. The spectrum challenge competition would help incentivize innovators and entrepreneurs to develop technologies that eclipse the current state-of-the-art.

“The U.S. has always been a global leader in wireless technologies, but we need innovative spectrum solutions in order for our wireless economy to continue to grow,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “The Spectrum Challenge Prize Act creates a new opportunity for the federal government and the private sector to work collaboratively in the pursuit of a spectrum breakthrough, which is ultimately a victory for our 21st century economy.”

“With so many wireless devices connecting to the Internet, we are facing a ‘spectrum crunch’ that could hinder the next technological revolution,” said Senator Udall. “American ingenuity can solve this. The Spectrum Challenge prize will help incentivize more innovators and researchers to focus on developing technologies to address the 21st century economy’s spectrum needs.”

The Spectrum Challenge Prize Act would instruct the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), in consultation with other federal partners, to award up to $5 million in prizes to participants who develop ground-breaking solutions to spectrum efficiency. In contrast to traditional research grants, the spectrum challenge prize maximizes the impact of federal investment by paying only for successful solutions, not research and development costs.

Challenge prizes have a long track record of spurring innovation, from early navigation efforts to more recent driverless car technology. Prizes have been successfully implemented by several federal agencies in the past to incentivize technological innovation. For example, NASA’s centennial challenges led to solutions from inventors ranging from the design of an astronaut’s glove to flying a lunar lander. Prizes complement traditional research and development efforts by attracting a broad range of innovators to solving big problems.

“We applaud Senator Udall and Representative Matsui for spearheading an effort to utilize the prize model to discover a breakthrough in spectrum efficiency,” said Chris Frangione, Vice President, Prize Development, XPRIZE. “The benefit of prizes go far beyond the initial purse itself. A future with more efficient spectrum will not only help the United States manage current demand, it will open the door to advancements and future economic opportunities in the wireless economy.”

The text of the legislation can be found by clicking here.