For anyone with a significant interest in working online, your IP address is important, it’s a vital part of your online presence.     Most people don’t really care about their address, as long as you have a valid IP address you can get online.   However there are distinctions about these addresses which can make a huge difference to your online experience.

Often the first indication people have that their IP address is of any relevance is when they find themselves getting blocked somewhere.   You might click on a video or website and get redirected to a message ‘sorry not available in  your country’ or you might try and view a website and get redirected somewhere else.   What’s generally to blame is where your IP address is registered and this behaviour is called ‘region locking’.  It’s extremely common and annoying especially if you’re settling down to watch the BBC News live while on holiday outside the UK for example.

This is all factored around the geographical location where you’re IP address is assigned to.  Which is why it usually becomes evident when people travel or go on their holidays, suddenly they find they can’t access the websites that they used to.  Watching domestic TV, streaming videos or accessing their online banking and things like that suddenly become very difficult when you’re outside your usual location.

People have found ways around this, normally you can hide your location by using a proxy or VPN service.  However this only works on a basic level, because there are other restrictions which stop these working mainly centered around the IP classification.   You see many websites now also look one step further than simply location – they look at the classification of the address and whether it originates from a commercial or residential origin.

Anyone who makes their living online is likely to need a little more control.  After all operating in a global market like the internet, getting blocked all the time because of location and what sort of IP address you have is going to be extremely inconvenient.   Sure you can use traditional proxies which are mostly run from datacentres but they too have significant problems.  The issue is that websites increasingly block access to all but residential IP addresses, they just want ordinary home users which means none of these proxy solutions actually work.  The alternative is to use VPNs that have residential IP addresses and gateways built in (read more here)

However it’s much, much harder to set up a residential IP gateway than it is a commercial one.  For instance you can’t just roll up to Comcast or BT and ask it to assign you a few hundred IP addresses, they use those for domestic customers only.   They are appearing but at the moment they are fairly hard to find and extremely expensive.  You have to be careful though as some of these ‘solutions’ actually piggy back domestic customers computers like the not recommended Hola which is a huge security risk to use.

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