UPDATED FOR 2018: If I get a DIRECTV receiver from Solid Signal, do I own it?

There’s a lot of confusion about what happens when you get a DIRECTV or DISH receiver from Solid Signal. You’re paying for it, and in some cases you’re paying more than you would pay if you went straight to AT&T or DISH. Let’s lay this out as simply as possible:

If you are a regular, home-based customer, the receivers and DVRs you get from Solid Signal are leased. The money you pay is a one-time lease fee. There are basically no owned receivers for home use, period.

There are certain DIRECTV plans open to people with credit issues where they can prepay for equipment ahead of time, but it’s still a lease. In order to address those credit issues, people will pay more than the normal lease amount but at the end of the day, it’s still a lease.

People think that if they get a receiver from Solid Signal that they own it. It’s even more confusing because sometimes you see “owned” receivers on eBay or craigslist, and when we tell you all receivers are leased, you think we’re lying because you see people advertising owned receivers.

Don’t get sucked in.

Pretty much every receiver that’s advertised for “sale” on eBay is actually leased. People think that the receiver in their home is owned because they don’t remember being told otherwise, so they figure they can get easy money by selling it. This doesn’t work. If you buy one of these receivers, DIRECTV or DISH will refuse to activate it.

Although, commercial customers have different rules.

If you have DIRECTV or DISH as part of your business, you own the receiver. The rules for businesses are different, although I am not 100% sure why. However, for the most part businesses can’t have DVRs and they are completely locked out of Genie DVRs and clients. If you see a business using a Genie, they are probably using one brought in from home and they’ll eventually get caught.

Why do these companies make it so hard with the leasing and all?

Moving to a lease model actually benefits most customers. The company can take depreciation on the receivers making it easier to justify offering them at low cost. (Owned receivers, when you could get them, used to cost three times as much.) It also allows the satellite company to offer quick replacements and upgrades for low cost.

People think that because they paid “full price” for a receiver, that they own it. That’s a very common misconception. What you are paying is a single lease payment that covers you for indefinite time. Yeah, that’s a lot of mumbo-jumbo, but it means that even though you paid, you don’t own it.

So why would you choose to get a receiver from Solid Signal?

When you get a DIRECTV or DISH receiver from Solid Signal, you know exactly what model you are getting. We make it easy for you to get the model you want, and we don’t substitute models as sometimes happens when a truck comes to the house. The equipment you get from Solid Signal is exactly what you ordered, and you install it yourself, the way you want to.

A word about refurbished receivers

Both DIRECTV and DISH routinely put refurbished receivers back into the pipeline. This is common practice throughout the pay-TV industry, and it’s due to the fact that the equipment is so well-built. It’s not uncommon at this point to see a receiver, client, or DVR last 6 years if it’s been well treated. Reusing perfectly good equipment is one way to make sure that costs are kept to a minimum, and when costs are low for AT&T and DISH, they stay lower for you.

Receivers that have been turned in to AT&T and DISH go to refurbishing centers. They’re inspected and if there is cosmetic damage, the receiver gets a new outer shell. They’re run through several levels of automated testing before going back out into the world. Most of the time, that’s enough. It’s pretty rare to see problems with refurbished receivers.

If you do have a problem though, you’re better off going through Solid Signal. We can stay with you and help diagnose the issue, and if the equipment needs to be replaced, we can take care of it quickly without your having to go through several levels of technical support.

Is any equipment actually owned?

Actually anything other than the receivers themselves is considered owned. This includes all sorts of things such as:

  • Satellite dishes
  • Multiswitches
  • Splitters, taps and nodes
  • Network connections like DECAs
  • Video Bridges
  • Replacement remotes
  • Power inserters and replacement power supplies
  • Cabling

All that stuff is basically yours to keep. It’s not usually worth selling and I wouldn’t buy it used, but at the very least you can plan on buying them outright and knowing that you’re in the clear.

When you’re ready to upgrade your DIRECTV system your way, there’s only one place to call to get the receivers and equipment you want. Of course it’s Solid Signal and the phone number is 888-233-7563.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.