Got to love bias in the media. Yes, Somerset County is on T-Band, but before T-Band is written off, there are some important considerations:
* That "no cost to licensee" thing is a big one. Many people have looked at in-kind replacements in land mobile spectrum. There is none. Not even within the 700 MHz narrowbanded segment.
* LTE is infrastructure. There is no current "off network solution" (the radios cannot talk simplex). The 3rd Generation Partnership Program (3GPP), the promoters of LTE, don't necessarily want simplex operation. It doesn't produce a revenue stream for them - they are mostly cellular companies. Tactical operations have to endure whether the infrastructure is there or not. The only simplex operation currently being investigated by "industry" is targeted advertisement that detects you and your proximity to a store, and broadcasts a commercial to you. Public safety has no R&D organization to call its own... it collectively abdicates that to the manufacturer community who passes the expense back to public safety at a premium.
* As we've seen in many, many man-made and natural disasters, infrastructure is the first thing to take a dump. One of the FirstNet board members whose daddy caught the Son of Sam Killer back in the 70s was quite vocal after Hurricane Sandy saying the public safety broadband infrastructure had to be more resilient than cellular. There were critics in the cellular industry saying it would be incredibly expensive and might not be do-able (they were probably not born yet at the height of the Cold War when the impossible not only WAS possible, but was delivered in place and operational in 32 months
). Sadly, these can-do guys are probably gone today.
* There is also an opportunity cost. UHF has become the de facto large system platform across NJ. Somerset County would lose its current interoperability with other UHF systems in and around it.
Let's look at reality: we've set up incompetent systems of oversight in other major undertakings. "Rebanding" 800 MHz was supposed to take a few years. Instead, it's been like building the pyramids. Additionally, the legislation was hasty and ill-contrived. The people who bargained it away behind closed doors were idiots who only had one thing on their mind and would pursue it at all costs (and got it). The clowns who demanded the give back and the idiots who acquiesced to it will be long gone in 8 years and one can only hope they will be far away the Beltway. There is compelling evidence that this configuration IS NOT intended for voice communication at the moment and will likely not be ready for decades. There are some nifty products, but (as a guy who has actually worn a badge) I wouldn't trust my life to any of them. We have a split between practicality and nifty. Engineers live in the nifty and sell that nifty to their bosses who want to make billions of dollars in revenue by giving you things you probably don't need. It's up to YOU to ground them back to practicality. To that end, if you're reading this and you are a firefighter, EMT, or police officer, you owe it to yourself and the people you serve with go to a trade show, take look at new products and publicly critique them. Put them on Twitter (seems that's the only way script kiddies notice anything these days). Introduce yourself to your Congressional Representative and make sure he or she knows exactly how you feel (civilly and respectfully, of course). If you don't have that dialogue, you can be sure someone else is... and what they say financially benefits them. Then you're just going for a ride at your own expense.
TL; DR, don't write off T-Band just yet.