A Review on Desert Wireless

    Internet connection possibilities in Newberry Springs are limited.

    To acquire anything faster than dial-up, the alternatives have been limited to such companies as Wild Blue, Hughesnet, or Verizon-Wireless.  Well, a new service has recently been introduced, Desert Wireless.

    The Newberry Community Service District (CSD) had planned on establishing its own high-speed Internet service by early last year for Newberry Springs through a federal grant; however, Desert Wireless then submitted an application to also provide service.

    Desert Wireless's application forced the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) to require the CSD to withdraw its application as federal funds could not be used to compete with a private entity.

    What has resulted is a substandard installation by Desert Wireless to cover Newberry Springs which does not adequately cover the vast geographic area.  Although much of Newberry Springs is covered, a considerable area is not serviced, and Desert Wireless has no current plans to enhance its coverage, reportedly opting instead to currently expand service in Barstow and Hinkley.

    Those who have signed-up with Desert Wireless do seem satisfied with the service.  A drawback however is the company's contract.  An installation charge of $125.00 is required with a minimum 18-month contract of $49.95 per month.  If the service is poor and does not meet the advertised promise, the customer can cancel the contract within 30 days; however, the customer will still be stuck for the $125.00 installation fee!

    Other expenses spelled out in the contract's fine print is that the customer must operate the Desert Wireless equipment using an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) and not a surge suppressor (power strip or whatever).  If the company's equipment is damaged by a power spike or other occurrence, the company has a tremendous mark-up replacement fee for its equipment of $450.00!  This is for equipment which can be found on the market for about $80.00.  This ridiculous fee can be most injurious for people living on a limited income.

    An additional problem that some customers have with the sign-up and contract is that they are required to release unnecessary private information, such as their Social Security number in which the company has no logical need for.

Newberry Springs.     The Desert Wireless system works off of RF.  This involves a small residential dish being installed to receive and transmit radio frequencies between the company's single Newberry Springs transmission site and the residence.  RF transmission is mostly line-of-sight (like UHF) so obstacles such as trees and buildings can block or interfere with the signal.  Any distance over 10 miles won't work, and locations that sit low or behind raised terrain may need a tall mast.

    Some subscribers have had to pay for extend poles to elevate their dish.  Note that such poles from the company (customer pays) have not come with adequate support and customers have had to add additional guy-wires because of the local winds.

    Customers who have maintained their service with Desert Wireless do seem satisfied, reporting little down time.

    However, the risk of a loss of a $125.00 installation fee if the company can not deliver service is unreasonable.  • The collection of one's Social Security number is invasive, unnecessary and unreasonable.  • Closed technical support during the weekends and nights is unreasonable.  • Difficulty in sometimes getting a simple return telephone call from Desert Wireless' Victorville office is unreasonable.  • The 18-month contract term (after already paying a $125.00 installation charge) is unreasonable.  • The $450.00 charge for equipment replacement is outrageous.  • Unsavory is the Desert Wireless' contract clause that allows the company to cancel customers' Internet service whenever it wants to without any customer cancellation rights.  Guess who would eat the $125.00 installation fee.  • Finally, customers need to watch their credit card statements.  Desert Wireless is known to make errors of additional charge to customers in which Desert Wireless does not mail a separate notification statement of.

    So the good is that the service for some works well.  For others, service is not obtainable at all.  And for everyone, the contract appears very one-sided and abusive.

Desert Wireless • (760) 245-1161

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