How to watch Internet TV across borders

Many Internet TV broadcasters limit their broadcasts to certain countries, but that doesn't mean you can't watch their shows with the right network configuration.

Welcome to the BBC from the States with the help of a VPN.

Living in the U.S., one of my greatest regrets is that I can't watch BBC video with iPlayer. If I were living in the U.K., I'd feel the same away about not being able to watch shows on Hulu. But, with a Web proxy or a virtual private networks (VPN)s and an Internet Protocol (IP) address in a country where the content is available, you can watch these shows.All of these services block you from watching video by simply checking to see if your IP address is in the “right” country. Your IP address, under today's IPv4 Internet, can place you to a particular neighborhood, so it's trivial to see if you're in the proper nation. But, if you use a Web proxy or a VPN with an IP address from the authorized region, you'll look to the video Web servers like you have permission to watch the video.

Related: How to watch the Olympics on the Internet

             Finding your TV shows on the InternetTechnically, it's easy to set your browser up to use a Web proxy or VPN software. With a Web proxy and Windows XP, for example, you just go to Internet Options, click the Connections tab, and then click LAN Settings. Next, under Proxy server you click to select the “Use a proxy server for your LAN” check box. Finally, you enter the IP address of the proxy server and in the Port box, type the IP number that is used by the proxy server for client connections—that's usually 8080. It's usually pretty simple to do that in any browser and operating system. There are also programs, such as Proxy Switchy, for Chrome that makes it easy to switch from one proxy to another in a single session. When you use a proxy, though, all your traffic is still open to network administrators. If you want to visit another country and watch their TV in privacy, you'll need a VPN. In either case, the problem is to find a proxy server, or a VPN, that offers addresses in the country you want video access from. There are many “free” proxy servers or VPNs, but their service tends to be poor and, frankly, except for services like Tor, which are meant to protect free speech, I don't trust them. Oh, and don't get any ideas about using Tor to watch the Olympics on the BBC; Tor blocks Flash. There are many commercial proxy servers. Two that I've tried, and I can recommend, are AllAnonymity, with proxy servers in, among other countries, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, and HideMyAss, with numerous supported countries.If you want to use a VPN, you'll need to set yourself up with a private VPN service. These companies, such as Banana VPN, Black LogicStrongVPN, and Unblock Us, will set you up with their VPN software and connections in other countries. Generally speaking, you'll end up paying a monthly service fee of $10 to $20 a month for either proxy or VPN services.There are also services, such as Expat Shield, which in this case only works if you're trying to appear with a U.K. address, that are designed to hide all the technical details from users. These tend to be in the same price range. No mater which service you try, though, you should keep in mind that even the best of them have only a limited amount of bandwidth to serve their customers. So, for example, I wouldn't try watching HD video across the Atlantic with any real hope of watching a high-quality video.Finally, the content owners, say NBC for the Olympics in the U.S., don't like people sneaking across borders to watch “their” content from another provider. Can they legally stop you? I am not a lawyer and I don't know, so if you decide to use any of these services, you have my best wishes, but you're on your own.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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