With the advancement of technology, most notably the internet, the world of entertainment has been revolutionized. Catching your favourite sporting event began with listening in on the radio commentary, then watching it on a black and white TV, then watching it on a modern LCD screen, and now, you can watch your favourite sports as well as movies and TV shows wherever you are on a smartphone or tablet.
Popular streaming and broadcasting services like Netflix and YouTube are huge repositories of TV shows and movies in great picture quality, enabling people to watch what they want whenever they want. However, there is a problem in these services which only allows some people to use them.
What is Geo-Restriction?
Geo-restriction is filtering out users based on their geographic location. In simpler terms, it means allowing users only from certain parts of the world to use a service. There is no area wide bias in this case. The simple reason behind this is that most streaming services have rights to broadcast content only in select parts of the world.
Therefore, they cannot air the content anywhere they wish, hence the selective availability. These services have to abide by the strict copyright laws.
The most obvious example of this is Netflix: if you’re a UK subscriber, then you’ll receive a totally different set of programs to watch to those people logging in from the US. Therefore, short of flying across the Atlantic, the only way of watching the additional content is to use something like a VPN that makes it appear to Netflix that you’re logging in from within US borders.
Sometimes the restrictions are more sever with a particular country’s government blocking access to an entire site (for example Facebook in China).
Whatever the reason, restricting content can seriously limit an individual’s ability to browse the web fully.
How to access geo-restricted content
Geo-restriction works by determining the location of the user using their IP address. So all that needs to be done is to fake your IP address. Here’s how you can do it:
1. Browser Plug-in
There are several browser plug-ins for different browsers that help you change your IP address at the click of a button. They are free to use and can be simply added to your browser. Hola is a good option. However, these reduce your connection speed markedly, and aren’t always reliable.
Web Proxies are remote computers that sit between your system and the internet. These remote computers act as mediators and relay the requests and responses. The IP address visible to anyone is that of the remote computer, so your true IP is masked. Although they are mostly free to use and don’t require any configuration, they are full of ads which can be malicious at times, and aren’t the most reliable when it comes to bypassing geo-restriction.
A VPN server is similar to proxies in that it sits between the internet and your system, but there are differences between the two. VPNs not only mask your IP address with that of their server, they also encrypt your connection, which means nobody can see what you are doing. Users have a lot more servers to choose from globally, which means they can pretend to be using the internet from anywhere. Moreover, VPNs are a lot more safe and reliable, though they require you to pay a subscription fee.
In this article, we talked about geo-restriction, and the different methods you can use to access geo-restricted content.
Our recommendation would obviously be to use a VPN: it is the most secure way of accessing restricted content without sacrificing the speed of your internet connection – something that is highly important if you’re looking to stream video content. After all, who wants to face buffering every couple of minutes just because they’re download speeds aren’t quick enough.
While it is hugely important, the speed of your VPN provider shouldn’t be the only factor that you look at when deciding which platform to go with. We’d suggest that you also want a product that has servers spanning the globe (to ensure that you’re limited in the number of locations that you can browse from).