Risk-Informed Regulation: Lessons for FCC Spectrum Management from Nuclear Industry Policy Making
27 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2014 Last revised: 19 Sep 2014
Date Written: September 18, 2014
The FCC’s use of worst-case interference analysis results in overly conservative final service rules that are sub-optimal in a time when the demand for wireless services is constantly increasing and more efficient use of spectrum is essential. Thus, this paper argues that the FCC should implement risk-informed wireless regulation as a complement to its traditional worst-case analysis.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has increasingly applied risk-informed decisionmaking (RIDM) over the past forty years, and based on technical analysis and real-world success, the agency has concluded that its integrated risk-informed approach is the best way to regulate the nuclear industry. We argue that if risk-informed regulation is the best option for the life-safety critical nuclear industry, it is surely appropriate for regulating radio interference, and the FCC should begin incorporating RIDM into wireless regulation. Accordingly, we use the NRC’s implementation of RIDM as a guide for FCC action.
We conclude that RIDM will help the FCC make better decisions and rules regarding interference. First, RIDM considers a wide variety of scenarios, allowing the FCC to better understand the interference risks. Second, RIDM provides a tool to prioritize risks, allowing better allocation of FCC resources. Third, RIDM highlights gaps in knowledge.
The NRC’s experience with RIDM shows that adoption requires a cultural change and is therefore a slow, gradual process. Accordingly, we suggest that the FCC start small but start soon, and use RIDM to complement its traditional worst-case analysis. We recommend that the FCC begin by soliciting risk analyses on a voluntary basis; apply the approach to low profile proceedings such as waivers and experimental licenses; develop know-how in the agency through courses and lecture series; and develop metrics to quantify risk assessment.
Keywords: FCC, Federal Communications Commission, Risk-informed decision making, Risk-informed regulation, Risk-informed decisionmaking,quantitative risk assessment, PRA, Probabilistic Risk Assessment, harmful interference, nuclear regulatory commission, NRC, RF service rules, statistical rulemaking
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