I also dislike the increasing equipment fees, but I think that this will be the public rationale for it:
1. "We (D*) keep upgrading the software - and our programmers and their development environments aren't free. So even if you have the same equipment, you get more value from it." (Not sure how this holds for non-DVR receivers)
2. "We have increasing internal costs that have nothing to do with the content providers - infrastructure improvements, labor costs, etc.. While the annual package cost increase defrays some/all of the increased content cost it doesn't cover our other expenses."
Again, don't mistake me - I dislike the increasing equipment costs and as such am strongly considering canceling 2 DVRs (leaving me with 1 DVR and no receivers) and replacing them with Roku HD boxes. One time cost of $60 each.
Yup. Software downloads, new features like Pandora, YouTube, etc...those cost money. HD guide development, expanding VOD to 10,000 titles, all requirement system improvements and all come with a cost. Whether it is licensing fees to folks like NDS or third party services or internal improvements of the software, etc, there are costs.
I'm not sure why someone earlier brought up the lease fee. The lease fee isn't changing and has changed only twice since inception. One year it went up one penny from $4.99 to $5.00. Another year it went up $1.00 to today's rate of $6.00 which has been the rate for several years. The first receiver is free.