How to Bypass Geo-Restrictions While StreamingPosted March 28, 2020, 2:55 a.m. by Emil S.
Video streaming is fast becoming the essential mode of communication, entertainment, and even in economic activities. As a result, there is a tremendous increase in interest by both consumers and service providers.
In a recent study by Digital TV Research, (368 million to 777 million) in global video streaming subscriptions from 2017 to 2023. However, despite the promises of the internet, bringing the world closer, we are still divided geographically. And this is more evident in the contents individuals can access.
With Geo-restrictions prevailing globally, all the promises are fading away. Regions like Australia and North America are strictly enforcing the restrictions. Asia, Middle East, Africa, and South America have no defined laws concerning geo-restrictions. The European Union is the only region where legal action is being taken against geo-blocking efforts.
In April 2018, the EU launched the cross-border portability regulation. These regulations allowed EU citizens to use subscriptions online while traveling within the European Union. That means any European citizen can access their content services online anywhere in Europe in a similar manner they can access the same services at home.
What is Geo-Restriction? And What is its Purpose?
Geo-restriction is a policy practiced by companies to block access to their services and content based on the user’s location. A perfect example is Netflix US. If you try to access their services from another region, say, the Asia Pacific, you will immediately be re-directed to your region’s content directory instead of the US.
Your IP address indicates the region where you are browsing from, so websites can act on your requests accordingly. Geo-restrictions are imposed because of licensing regulations concerning the broadcast of contents in each country. The content providers spend vast amounts on licensing rights from a particular country. That practice harkens back to the heyday of television and radio broadcasting with countries having distinctive channels with their budgets and audience.
A recent study by Rethink Technology Research shows that subscription videos on demand (SVOD) will soon reach equal volume with that of the TV broadcast. The problem lies in the fact that content licensing is not evolving fast enough to cope with the surge of SVOD activities. The bigger question is whether the whole infrastructure wants these licensing policies changed or not.
Fortunately, for those affected by geo-restrictions, there are four (4) ways of circumventing the restrictions:
Use of VPN
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a cybersecurity measure to create a virtual passageway (tunnel) where your data is encrypted. That way, no one can monitor or track your activities online. A VPN does that by masking your actual IP address with an assigned substitute coming from a different country. For example, you are in Japan and select a remote VPN server located in the US, the particular website you are accessing will think you are in the US.
VPNs also allows you to bypass government restrictions. That means VPN not only preserves internet freedom but also protects your information from potential pirates. There are a large number of VPNs offering varying levels of services at different prices. You must choose the most appropriate VPN for your streaming or browsing platform. The best way is to search online using the keyword “best VPN for (name of the streaming app).” So, that means each streaming app or platform will result in a corresponding list of VPN providers most apt for it.
The Disadvantages of using VPNs:
Browsing speed may vary or significantly slow down. VPNs don’t work with Apple TV, Xbox, or Chromecast
Use of a Proxy Server
A proxy server serves as an intermediate between a device and another server requesting the service. It uses one of its allocated IP addresses to access the website a client is requesting. It also utilizes caching for faster communication with a particular website.
That means if the proxy server detects a cached version of a previously visited website, it will reply directly to the client instead of forwarding the request to the particular server.
The Disadvantages of using Proxy Servers:
Servers can get overloaded, creating massive downtimes. Proxy servers cannot breach login walls to access content behind such security measures.
Use of a DNS
A Smart Domain Name System (DNS) Service changes the correct DNS address allocated to you by your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
It does not change your IP address but overrides the particular DNS values that disclose your location. Your connection is immediately re-routed to an assigned proxy server to a place where the website is based. It means that to the particular website, you seem to be in the country where the controlled content is allowed.
An advantage of using DNS service is you don’t suffer from loss of speed because the service only re-routes specific details associated with your geographical location. More important, it doesn’t require encryption, so you keep your original ISP speed.
The disadvantages of using DNS service:
The list of unblocked sites does not include all websites for a specific region.
Your ISP can block the DNS service with a transparent proxy.
Use of the Tor Browser
Tor is a free service that allows people to browse the internet incognito by hiding their IP address. Tor uses the new concept of Onion Routing wherein information is encrypted and transmitted through multiple servers called layers. The data is transferred through multiple relays, so it creates multi-layer encryption, effectively hiding your information.
The disadvantages of using Tor:
Slow internet speed due to millions of users with their information passing through several thousands of relays in the Tor structure. Governments can block Tor.
The best way to circumvent geo-restrictions is to hide your IP address while streaming content. Using Smart DNS and VPN services are more effective than using Tor and proxy servers because they are more secure and faster than the latter two options.
How to Choose the Best VPN Service and what are the essential factors to consider when choosing a VPN service?
- Free Trial period – this period is the best time for you to test whether a particular VPN suits your needs. So choose a service with a free trial period long enough to make your evaluation.
- Choose a VPN that can serve you in a particular country where your target website server is located. The number of servers a VPN company possesses is irrelevant if it does not have the right server where you need it.
- The number of devices that can be connected simultaneously. Ideally, the more connections, the better.
- Choose a VPN provider that is compatible with your home router. That is to ensure that all traffic (incoming and outgoing) goes through the VPN service.
- Choose a VPN service with the right security protocol for your desired level of protection.
- Check if the VPN provider offers a kill switch, or the ability of a VPN client to stop sending data when a connection is disrupted.
- Don’t choose a VPN provider that logs detailed surfing information. The government can get access to the info, and the company may sell it to marketing concerns.
- Don’t believe the advertised speed of a VPN provider. It does not matter as all VPN services work through your ISP connection, so it is dependent on that fact. Again, here is where the free trial period is vital.
- The Price of the VPN service is less important than its availability in your location. Look for deals that can give you some savings, but again, test the service during the trial period.
Choosing the right VPN service provider for your particular needs should be based on your specific situation and requirements. It is always prudent to seek advice, but nothing beats doing your research and trusting your judgment.