The BBC haven’t always streamed the BBC News over the internet, in fact it was noticeably missing from the initial releases of the BBC iPlayer for a few years. There are a few other programmes which were omitted, for example there was always a delay put on Match of the Day presumably for contractual reasons. However now that BBC has it’s own dedicated 24 hour News channel, it’s great news to see that it’s simultaneously broadcast live online on their web site.
You can see the tab illustrated which leads to the live TV streaming section including the BBC News channel. However many people outside the UK will have problems finding this link as it simply doesn’t exist on the version you get outside the UK. It’s called the ‘International version’ and anyone not in the UK will be redirected to this site. The site is good but it’s missing all the TV stations and the BBC iPlayer functionality, even if you go there directly you’ll get blocked whenever you try and play anything.
As you can see the trick is to hide your location before you connect to the website. By logging on to a server physically located in the UK, you can access any of the BBC without issue simply because it will see the server’s UK address and not your real one. It has the added bonus of adding a layer of security and privacy to your internet connection too. This is because the connection between your computer and the VPN server is entirely encrypted which means both your identity is private but also all credentials you pass through the VPN are safe too.
It should be added that all the media companies try and block access to their sites through intermediary servers like proxies and VPNs. However there are still several companies who’s servers work perfectly well for accessing the BBC from anywhere in the world.
RTE is the national broadcaster of the Republic of Ireland and has been involved in broadcasting TV channels since 1961. It was actually an early adopter of radio broadcasting yet Ireland was relatively slow in getting involved in TV broadcasts – the BBC was involved in the 1920s for example. There was some television broadcasting in Ireland through the Northern Ireland services run by the BBC although this was completely unofficial.
The Irish Government until the late 1950s considered TV to be a luxury which wasn’t a priority however it changed it’s opinion as the popularity rose. A committee was formed to investigate how to set up an Irish broadcasting service (for the lowest possible outlay) and it’s initial form was something like the commercial services from the UK.
The first broadcast was on New Year’s Eve, 1961 at 19:00 hours and included a speech from the President who described what the service would be. Many other messages were then broadcast from religious figures before a live concert was shown live from the Gresham Hotel in Dublin.
Temple Bar, Dublin
The Irish people took to the new medium almost immediately particularly as a way to discuss topics and current affairs. Suddenly topics like abortion, religion and contraception were discussed openly in chat shows and tv studios broadcast across Ireland. The origin of many of these chat shows lies with the first and arguably the most famous one – The Late Late Show which began in July 1962 and which still runs today.
Although RTE was relatively late to the world of TV broadcasting, however it caught up quickly. In 1962, RTE expanded it’s broadcasts to include 625 line transmissions several years ahead of the BBC for instance. In 1969, RTE broadcast the Wimbledon finals in colour over the next few years more and more broadcasts were transmitted in colour.
Rte has expanded it’s channels over the last few years and also branched out into the world of internet broadcasting. RTE Player is the channels broadcasting application and it can be found at the following address – http://www.rte.ie/player/.
Unfortunately the channel is not directly available over the internet outside Ireland although they can be accessed in certain areas. You can watch RTE player in UK but only from certain areas of Northern Ireland particularly near the border there is some overspill of the signal. Also the channels were made available over Sky although there has been some disputes over licensing so certain events usually sports shows are not available in Northern Ireland.
There is however a method where you can watch RTE Player from outside Ireland. This involves hiding your location behind an intermediate server which means that you can appear to be from whatever country you require. To do so you don’t need to teleport to Ireland you just need to get hold of an Irish IP address. So to access RTE Player you would merely connect through to an Irish proxy server first there is also an explanation here – http://www.iplayerabroad.com/bbc-iplayer-ireland/. This actually means your location is irrelevant, by using an Ireland proxy online you can be anywhere, you can even watch Irish TV in Spain for example.
What happens is that the proxy acts as a buffer between the RTE web site and your computer. When the website performs a lookup on the connecting IP address it will receive that of the server and not the client. As long as that server is based in the Republic of Ireland then all of the RTE website will be accessible through an Ireland web proxy.
This method works for all geo-restricted sites although there are a few exceptions. Remember though speed is important as using a slow server as a video proxy will be a frustrating experience. Also many websites now are able to detect and block the use of proxies, and most users have switched to using VPN. These encrypted and secure services are much more difficult to detect than simple proxy servers and can be used in the same way to hide a user’s physical location.
Although at the time of writing the Irish proxy still works, it is becoming unreliable. It is strongly suspected that the proxies will be blocked at some point and if you want to watch rte in UK you’ll need to invest in a VPN with an Irish IP address list. The VPN is almost impossible to detect and you can also use it on any device, it’s fairly easy to set up an Irish vpn for ipad or an Ireland vpn for Android devices for example.
If you’re looking for a mixture of high security and fast servers, then may we suggest trying out Identity Cloaker. It’s an amazing program with servers in the US and most European countries including Ireland and UK.
You’d never hear the word ‘proxy’ outside of an IT department a few years ago, but now everyone uses them. This post is specifically how to use a proxy to watch the BBC iPlayer application in the USA. Now firstly a quick introduction to the problem, the internet is not open or unrestricted in fact it’s more compartmentalised than ever before. One of the reasons, is a technology called ‘region locking’ or ‘geo-targeting’ which have very similar meanings.
These technologies are basically designed to ensure that certain websites are only accessible from specific physical locations. It sounds crazy, but it’s true – where you are based physically has a huge impact on what you can access online. I’m not talking about the stupid filtering that paranoid governments do either, these restrictions are deployed by the web sites themselves. Mostly it’s to do with money, profit or copyright laws but they affect a huge proportion of the world’s best web sites.
I would certainly put the BBC and it’s application BBC iPLayer as one of the best web sites on the internet. You get access to all the BBC broadcasts live, something like six or seven 24 hour TV channels plus all the radio channels. You can also watch stuff for about six weeks after using the BBC iPlayer, all quality programmes with not an advert to be seen. Unfortunately it’s only accessible in the UK, if you try and access from the USA you’ll get blocked.
Which is where our friend the proxy comes in, a server that sits between you and the web site you visit basically hiding your real location. The trick is to use a proxy server that sits in the country you need access to, which for the BBC is of course the United Kingdom.
So here we go – How to watch the BBC iPlayer USA simply by using a proxy server.
As you can see this is on a computer, the software demonstrated is called Identity Cloaker and actively hides your true location when you visit any website. In this instance, the BBC sees the UK proxy server and assumes that is your location and as such everything works, you can even watch the BBC News.
Now a few years ago pretty much any proxy server would work, even the free ones you could find online. However this has now changed and there’s a few things you should bare in mind when looking for a way to watch the BBC iplayer in the USA.
Speed – it’s everything when streaming video, otherwise whatever you’re watching will buffer all the time. Discretion – don’t sign up to a proxy/vpn service which openly advertises bypassing the BBC blocks and has it’s logos all over the site. They will get blocked or closed down. Security – last year the BBC started actively blocking these connections from proxies. They need to be securely configured so as not to be detected. Other Countries – If you want to access websites and TV stations in other countries, you’ll need access to proxies in those countries too.
Identity Cloaker is our recommendation because of it’s speed and security, plus it’s very reasonably priced. Try the 10 day trial first to make sure it works well for you. Although the core program is software to run on your computer/laptop you can also connect through from a tablet or smartphone by creating the connection manually. It’s easy to do and there’s a guide here.
There used to be a time when configuring and using a US IP proxy server was only for the technologically advanced. However times have changed and now millions of people with limited technical knowledge use IP proxies every day for many mundane situations.
One of the most common uses for an IP proxy is to access content that is restricted by region locking. For instance if you try and access any of the mainstream US media sites like ABC, NBC or Hulu from outside the USA then you’ll find that the majority of the site is inaccessible. The sames goes for lots of other media sites across the world – all inaccessible outside their domestic market.
It kind of makes a mockery of the global communication medium that we call the internet. It certainly wasn’t designed to restrict and block access based on your physical location however that is how it has turned out. Which is why for a US citizen travelling or living abroad a US IP proxy server is so useful.
Using a US IP Proxy Server
The fact is that most of these websites determine your location by looking at your IP address and where it’s registered to. This will of course determine your physical location, however if you connect through a proxy server then the IP address of the server will be revealed and not your own. Therefore someone on holiday in Europe who connected to the internet through a US IP proxy server would appear to be in the US. Here’s a quick video which demonstrates this in action:
As you can see in the demonstration, the software is used to connect to a network of different proxies. In this particular example a US proxy is selected in order to access the film and movie site Hulu. Without using the proxy then the site won’t be accessible as the content is only licensed for US based users. However you can see that there are many different countries available in the software which can be used to watch or access web sites in other countries.
Connecting through a Canadian proxy would give you access to all the Canadian websites, using a French proxy would give you a French IP address and the ability to watch sites like M6 Replay.
As you can see from the video there is no real technical knowledge required as it’s all taken care of by the software. There are a whole host of these programs available now which you can install easily and then change your IP address to whichever you need. It is worth remembering though that when your connection is routed through a specific country then your browsing will be tailored to that country.
Someone connected through a US IP proxy will for example get the US version of Google complete with US related search results. It is obviously not a major issue but it can be confusing if you forget!
Many of us now use VPNs and proxy servers routinely to hide our real IP addresses. The reasons are many however for most us it’s either to bypass the thousands of region locks which exist online or simply to hide our real location and identity. Investing in a VPN solution is usually a wise move, providing protection for when you’re online either at home or using an insecure wifi connection in a cafe or hotel for example. When you connect through a VPN or proxy your real ip address is hidden and the website you visit has no way of logging your location.
How to Change IP Address Quickly
The problem is that for region locking uses, having a single additional IP address is rarely enough. The problem is that all these regional filters are based on different locations, so you often require addresses based in a variety of countries and being able to change address quickly is essential. Here’s a quick demonstration of some software called Identity Cloaker which facilitates this:
You can see that the software that controls the connection sits in the task bar and you can enable the VPN or switch it to use another server whenever you like. So for example if you where trying to watch the BBC you’d need a UK IP proxy but to watch ABC or CNN live streams you’d need a US proxy and IP address. All you need to do is open the control panel and switch to the appropriate country.
A few of the biggest VPN providers now provide multiple servers across different countries so you can switch like this. It makes sense to use one of these rather than the companies who charge additional for each country you sign up for. Using these companies you’ll find information on how to change IP address quickly as the subscription covers all their servers. Most of the sites cover countries like USA, Canada, UK, France and Germany whereas for other countries you might need to search around.
One of the difficult countries to get a proxy or VPN in is Australia, simply because the internet costs tend to be much higher there and it’s expensive to include Australian servers in their infrastructure. There are a few around though and you can find a few around, but remember to watch BBC iPlayer in Australia you need a UK proxy not an Australian one. Although any one based in Australia would be advised to use a local proxy when they’re not trying to bypass region locks simply because of the speed.
There is another reason why you should regularly rotate and change your IP address and that’s to keep the fact that you’re using a secure connection private. If you don’t switch addresses and just use a static video proxy, any ISP logs will show the use of a proxy as all requests will be routed through the one specific IP address. Switching this address periodically makes it much more difficult to detect.
There’s no doubt that your online experience can be extremely limited from certain countries. More and more countries are seeking to take control over things like access to social media, political and religious websites and worryingly even many of the independent news sources available online. The practice of filtering and censorship grows everyday and there’s little sign of this trend reversing.
Most of the time, censorship of the internet is justified by a fight on crime, child abuse or other illegal practice. Generally those aims are flexible and can be extended to suit whatever the State decides, often the associated legislation is particularly vague to allow whatever interpretation is needed. Most countries who heavily police the internet have ‘catch all’ phrases which can cover pretty much anything they decide at the time. All over the world innocent journalists, bloggers and web users have been imprisoned for little more than expressing the ‘wrong opinion’ online, sometimes all it takes is a ‘like’ on a Facebook post to land people in trouble.
For people unfortunate enough to live in such places, using the internet safely involves protecting both their internet connection and maintaining anonymity. There are simple things like using pseudonyms and never putting any real information in social media profiles for instance. Yet ultimately it is the technical details which are most important, hiding your real ip address is vital.
This is because it doesn’t matter what information you leave online, your IP address can be linked to your physical location. Obviously in a public access point like a cafe or library this isn’t as important but if you’re using a home internet connection you have to be even more careful. This is why proxies and VPN are so important as they sit between you and the website you’re visiting in order to hide your location. Instead of your own IP being left, instead it’s that of the VPN/proxy that you are using.
Here’s an example of such a service being used, not for security but instead to fool the region locking of a big media site – it’s called a proxy for Netflix you can see it here.
In this scenario, Netflix is not able to see the true location of the viewer only that of the proxy server which allows full access. However using proxies to hide your location is fraught with dangers simply because they are relatively insecure. Firstly they do nothing to hide or secure any information you transmit and secondly proxies are by default set up to transmit a X-Forwarded-For HTTP header when they contact any server. This can be used to both detect the presence of the proxy and worse the originators IP address.
Any decent anonymous proxy server would be configured to not send this header but remember it is default behaviour and any upgrade or misconfiguration could easily override these changes. The danger is that as soon as any misconfiguration happens, the proxy will be identified and picked up by services such as IP2Location which maintain extensive databases of proxies, VPNs and TOR nodes.
In the case of media sites this simply means that attempts to bypass the region locks won’t work but for a political activist in somewhere like Thailand, China or Turkey then the repercussions can be much more serious. Additional Reading
In the early years of the internet there were very few restrictions on what you could see and download. If you started a web browser in the US you’d get pretty much the same experience as someone who started in Cairo. Obviously there might be some variation in speed of course, but what you could see and do was almost identical.
That’s changed a lot now with the growing popularity of region locking and control. It started off fairly helpfully – your search engines would switch you to the appropriate location based on your IP address. This meant that if you were searching from London for electricians you wouldn’t get directed to results in Sydney which would obviously be useful. We’ve got used to this and it generally makes everyone’s life much easier.
However the use of region locking has extended greatly in the last few years, in fact any major web site will usually operate some level of control. Often it’s again beneficial, Amazon will make sure you go to the UK site, Costco will direct you to your local store and so on. However for many of the world’s biggest media sites it’s a much different story – region locking usually means region blocking.
Ever tried to access Pandora from outside the US? Well it doesn’t work, the wonderful music site is only accessible for those located in the US. Want to watch the BBC News, sorry if you’re outside the UK it’s not going to happen. Those are just two but the list is extensive, in fact it’s unlikely you’ll now find a large media site which doesn’t lock down access based on the location of your IP address.
It’s crazy when you think about it, a global communication medium deliberately trying to segregate and restrict our world. Worse too that in a time when many of us travel extensively, we are blocked and filtered at every turn when we’re online.
So What’s the Solution?
Well to take back control and stop being blocked you need to be able to control your IP address. Unfortunately for most of us that’s not possible, the IP address is assigned when you connect to the internet and there is no way of modifying it. You can of course modify your local address but that’s not important, region locking uses your external internet facing IP address.
However although you cannot modify your address, you can hide it by using VPN servers to protect your connection. If you connect to a UK VPN server for example, it will look as though your have a UK IP address and watching the BBC works without problems. You can use a US VPN to gain a US IP address for Netflix irrespective of where you actually are. Many firms have developed services to support this demand and the top VPN providers will allow access to a network of servers in different countries.
This means that although you cannot change your real IP address, you can hide it behind a VPN server. It gives you back control and neatly sidesteps the pervasive region locking and filtering which seems likely to keep expanding.
Proxy servers will commonly be required to perform two kinds of DNS lookups those to resolve IP addresses from the hostnames and reverse lookups to find the hostname given the IP address. The DNS lookups will normally require contacting the DNS service and therefore there will be an impact on speed and some latency. It is therefore important to optimize these lookups in order to minimize the impact on the proxy performance.
The main goal in optimizing DNS lookups of all sorts is to actually avoid doing external lookups whenever possible. The more DNS lookups that are performed the bigger the impact on the performance of the proxy server. DNS lookups are of course pretty much essential in running any sort of proxy, without a method to determine IP addresses and hostnames they will be unable to retrieve the information and URLs requested. Unfortunately there’s no way to completely replace these requests however one method can reduce the number that is required – DNS caching.
Reverse DNS lookups will be utilised when the IP address is available but we need the DNS Hostname. This is usually the situation when the connection is inbound and the receiver wants to find out which host the connection is coming from. In this situation the socket can actually be queried to obtain the IP address (that the connection is from) however the DNS Hostname would not be available in that information. This is because the TCP/IP protocol works with IP address and not DNS hostnames.
Reverse DNS requests are commonly needed to apply access rights and controls. This is because these are usually assigned by client hostname or domain name not IP addresses. For example it is typical to assign internet rights based on physical clients or membership of a domain group, the IP address is not typically used to control rights in this way. Also most logs store information on proxies in hostname format as they are much easier to track and follow than simply numerical addresses. This makes it easier to troubleshoot things like people using external Dns servers to watch American version of Netflix from their office!
If there is no requirement for DNS host names to be used for access control, then it is often feasible to turn reverse DNS lookups off – doing so will heavily boost the performance of any internet connected proxy server. Although having hostnames in logs is convenient, it is not alone worth the performance impact. The logs can be updated after with hostnames if required by resolving the IP addresses afterwards if required.
The updating of logs with hostname resolution is actually much more efficient if done in a single batch. This is because it is likely that there are individual IP addresses repeated in the logs and these can be resolved with a single request. Especially on proxy servers this can be a significant reduction because there will likely be a fixed number of IP addresses which are repeatedly requested.
On a computer network, much like in real life, there are different levels of access dependent on a variety of reasons. It may be due rights assigned to username or account, perhaps an access token or often simply your physical location. These rights are assigned in different ways but the most popular method across the internet is based on your IP address.
The IP address is that unique number which is assigned to every single device which is connected to the internet, from computers and laptops to phones and tablets and even your internet enabled fridge. Every single device that is accessible online has a unique IP address and can be tracked by this number. Although you IP address can ultimately be traced back to a specific location and owner, this information is not available to any website that it visits. However even without access to an ISP record the IP address can be used to determine two pieces of information very easily – classification and location.
The first classification refers to the type of connection the IP address is registered to specifically residential or commercial. This piece of information is not always used as there can be some overlaps with this classification. The physical location however is used extensively by the vast majority of major web sites. Some may use it to help serve relevant content, perhaps supplying specific language versions depending on your location or serving up adverts which are more applicable to you. This is usually helpful although it can be very annoying if you are genuinely trying to access different content.
The most common use though is to block access based on this location, a practice used by virtually every large media site on the web. If you are in the USA for example, you will not be able to watch any of the UK media sites such as the BBC iPlayer or ITV Hub. Similarly every single one of the big American media sites will block non-US addresses. These blocks and controls are growing exponentially every year for instance there are now thousands of YouTube videos only accessible to specific locations.
Fortunately for the enlightened it isn’t such a big problem, because using VPNs and proxies you can actually control your own IP address. A simple method of using a British VPN server can give you access to the BBC iPlayer in the USA like this. It merely hides your physical location and instead the web site sees only the address of the VPN and it works with the vast majority of web sites.
So why would anyone be trying to find a VPN with a residential IP? Well, for the sake of clarity, there are certain distinct classifications of IP addresses which are becoming more and more important. It refers to the actual categorisation of their use rather than any complicated technical property. The fact is that there are only two of these categories –
Commercial IP Addresses – allocated to private companies and datacentres
Residential IP Addresses – allocated to individuals usually through Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
There’s no technical distinction, no difference in structure or allocation – you can’t tell simply by looking at an IP address which is commercial and which is residential address. In fact it’s entirely possible for addresses to switch between the two categories if they are reallocated. However the classification is being used increasingly by web sites and services to distinguish between customers.
Take for example a standard residential IP address assigned from a small ISP, any website can determine that this is likely to be a private individual likely to be surfing from their home computer. The origin of a commercial IP address is much more difficult to determine – it could be from a commercial organisation, from a wireless access point, directly from a server or bot or perhaps a standard user who is using a VPN or proxy server. If you’re a website owner looking for customers for example, it’s the residential traffic that is going to interest you most not the commercial stuff.
It’s a classification which is now being used by many websites to block traffic from specific sources. You can see in this post about VPNs being blocked by Netflix that the media giant is using this classification to stop people bypassing the region blocks by using proxy type servers to hide their locations. Netflix has simply decided that if you are originating from a commercial based IP address then you can’t access their service irrespective of whether you have a subscription or not. Which is why people are becoming increasingly desperate to find a VPN with a residential IP address.
It’s not just the media companies who are starting this, other sites are increasingly looking to block all non-residential based addresses too. There are advertising sites like Craigslist and Gumtree who want to isolate their services to specific local home markets and people using VPNs or commercial servers to access them globally aren’t in that category. There are casualties of course, VPNs are important ways to maintain the security of your internet connection and privacy yet using one is likely to get you blocked from certain sites. Additionally there are many countries where it’s not safe to post openly and a VPN is essential to use the internet securely.
There are a few VPN services which now offer residential IP addresses included, like this one at Identity Cloaker which routes Netflix traffic through residential address to avoid being blocked. However they are quite rare simply because the addresses are very difficult to obtain and cost much more than standard commercial IP addresses available from a datacenter.