I am paying $16.99 a month to rent the HD-DVR Box and $11.99 a month to rent the HD-Set-Top Box which equals $28.98 a month -- which equals $347.76 a year -- which after 5 years is $1,738.80 --- can I buy this equipment? Seems to me the advantage here is all Verizon and not the consumer! What can we do about this? If we can't buy the equipment -- why not?
No cable provider allows you to buy their equipment.
You can buy a TIVO or other similar device and then only rent cable card.
The only thing you can do is complain to the DOJ that the set top box issue is an illegal tying arrangement under antitrust law just like when Heinz made supermarkets sell their pickles if they wanted to carry Heinz ketchup. That being said, Motorolla does sell the set top boxes-look at the serial number on the box- but you would have to argue with Verizon to use it. If you will recall, Ma Bell before the breakup of the baby bells used to "rent" phone equiptment to residential and business customers. Being a monopoly, (and you may want to review Verizon company history) the phone company could get away with it until someone sued. As a practical matter you can avoid duplicate box charges by running a cable from the "out" cable jack through the walls (use a signal booster for long streatches) to the other room. You can then use a device like a remote extender to change channels. Viewing on both TVs is limited to the same channel. With the modern TVs there should not at this point even be a need for a box. Otherwise, consumers are becoming cord cutters to avoid all these useless charges.
FCC governs cable companies.
And currently allows the setup Verizon uses.
You can either rent their stb or a cable card and buy your own devices like TiVo.