Applying an Information Based Decision Analysis to Spectrum Management Regulatory Decisions

26 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2018 Last revised: 20 Sep 2018

See all articles by Mark Lofquist

Mark Lofquist

Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program

David Reed

University of Colorado at Boulder, Computer Science Department

Date Written: August 14, 2018


This paper contains the development and application of an interdisciplinary framework for making informed spectrum management regulatory decisions. This paper addresses the question, can a framework that includes technical, risk, and benefits/cost assessments serve as a tool for decision makers when making spectrum management regulatory decisions? In 2010, the U.S. President issued a Presidential Memorandum, directing the Department of Commerce, working with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), to make spectrum available over the next ten years for expanded wireless broadband use. Consequently, the Spectrum Pipeline, Mobile Now and AIRWAVES Acts have echoed a desire for expansion in commercial spectrum availability. With the expanded spectrum available for allocation, regulators require a repeatable, defensible, and effective approach to inform decisions about new spectrum allocations. This approach must consider; service rules, sharing methods, auction details, incumbent user relocation, and incumbent system adaptation and evolution. Regulators’ ability to make dispassionate spectrum management regulatory decisions is a key to expanding services like mobile broadband in a fair, well-reasoned manner. Using an informed decision-making process could add necessary rigor and provide a definitive decision framework for repurposing spectrum to meet market demands. This paper develops a decision-making framework for spectrum sharing based on existing well-known risk management strategies, including work done by the Nuclear Regulatory Committee, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Federal Communications Commission and benefit-cost assessments. Contrary to decision-making techniques that only consider the worst-case scenarios involving the worst performing devices, information-based decision-making frameworks allow decision makers to analyze the continuum of effects across varying conditions and devices, as well as the economic implications of those effects. Risk management frameworks ask (i) what can go wrong? (ii) how likely is it? and (iii) what are the consequences? This paper proposes and applies a decision analysis framework to a spectrum allocation, or service rule change request proposed by regulators. This decision analysis framework was developed by: • investigating state-of-the-art risk management strategies to identify an approach that could be applicable to spectrum management regulatory changes. • evaluating harm-claim interference measurements, considering both out of band and co-channel coexistence scenarios. • performing a technical interdisciplinary decision analysis considering aggregate consumer welfare, including both technical offerings, availability, and impact on consumers, as well as an analysis of the value of all services affected. The decision analysis framework proposed is based on existing risk-informed interference assessments and benefits-cost analyses. The framework has also been tested and proven using a test-case. The framework helps provide appropriate information regulators need to identify and analyze key performance indicators describing harmful interference and performance objectives of the systems in question, as well as economic data describing aggregate welfare. Furthermore, this framework proposes benefit-cost analysis for quantifying economic impact of changing spectrum allocation and service rules.

Keywords: RIIA, risk assessment, spectrum policy, information based, decision science, risk informed, cost-benefit, spectrum policy, service rules, harm claim, FCC, NRC, NIST

Suggested Citation

Lofquist, Mark and Reed, David, Applying an Information Based Decision Analysis to Spectrum Management Regulatory Decisions (August 14, 2018). TPRC 46: The 46th Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy 2018, Available at SSRN: or

Mark Lofquist (Contact Author)

Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program ( email )

Boulder, CO
United States

David Reed

University of Colorado at Boulder, Computer Science Department ( email )

1070 Edinboro Drive
Boulder, CO 80309
United States

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