Verizon Sued Over Set-Boxes

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Those set-top boxes needed to transmit cable television channels on multiple TV sets in a home are the subject of a Philadelphia lawsuit against Verizon.

“You need a set-top box in order to be sent the networks you purchased, to be able to receive them, and each cable company designates those particular networks differently,” Point Park University business professor Paige Beal told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Tuesday.

The suit claims Verizon deceives customers by suggesting set-top boxes are essential for every TV.

But Beal, who worked 10 years in the cable industry, says there are alternatives.

“There are a lot of options these days to the set-top box, but few options to that wire that comes into your home that connects you to that very much mandatory internet connection.”

Beal says once you have an internet connection into your smart TV, “You could be watching Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu.”

“You could also have a Roku, which is another box that could be connected to your TV that does essentially the same thing because it’s connected to the internet. You could use the Google Chromecast, and Chromecast allows you to take whatever you’re watching on any screen and cast it to the TV,” she said.

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About 140,000 Verizon customers in Pennsylvania lease an additional set-box like this at a cost of about $12 a month for each set-box.

The lawsuit alleges that it’s Verizon’s obligation to tell customers that there may be cheaper alternatives, but not everyone agrees that that’s the company’s duty.

After all, buyer beware is the normal standard.

“I think it’s up to the consumer rather than the cable companies,” says Beal.

No comment yet from either Verizon or the plaintiffs.

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