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The internet has probably changed everyone’s life to some extent. For the younger generation it’s an intrinsic part of their existence, my children simply can’t comprehend a life without the internet! Even for us more mature web surfers it’s sometimes difficult to imagine how we completed many tasks without it.
Supermarket shopping, buying insurance, managing bank accounts or simply paying bills – take our web access away and suddenly these can become very difficult tasks. Can you remember ringing around insurance brokers trying to get a quote for car insurance ! There’s no doubt that in tasks like these the internet has transformed our lives for the better – often a few clicks on a mouse can achieve what used to take hours.
There’s of course, much more than the simple mundane tasks of everyday life which the internet has helped with. Communication is often touted as the single greatest benefit, we’re all arguably much more in touch with events and our fellow human beings across the world than we were thirty years ago. Speaking to someone on the other side of the planet is no longer a difficult task and has become almost common place. Today my son was playing a computer game with four Russian students from Moscow, who he knew fairly well but had never met! An experience that I never came close to when I was 15 years old in the 1980s!
The benefits of increased communication come in many ways, often something seemingly trivial can become extremely important – certainly one of those is the ability to watch TV from anywhere in the world.
My First Attempt to Watch TV Abroad
About thirty years ago I went on a long trip abroad with work to somewhere pretty boring and remote. My worry was how I could entertain myself in the evenings, so I came up with a plan. This was to purchase a pocket TV set which looked something like this –
This wasn’t the exact model but it was something similar, it would be perfect to watch in the evenings if I didn’t have access to a full size TV. The plan didn’t work, the reception was terrible and any picture I did get was barely watchable and often (obviously) in a foreign language I couldn’t understand. The Pocket TV promised much but spectacularly failed to deliver, ironically it was just as hopeless when I tried to use it in the UK too!
Contrast with a similar trip taken by myself a few weeks ago, where instead of a portable TV I took with me my HP laptop which was a fraction of the size and weight. Despite being outside the UK I was able to enjoy the Test Match commentaries, watch the news every night and keep up with Match of the Day and my favorite soaps – all online, all on my lightweight laptop.
How to Watch UK TV Online Abroad
Just about every UK television programme broadcast in the United Kingdom is available on the internet too. In fact you’ll normally find most shows streamed live and archived for several months too. Most of the major UK TV channels have very impressive web sites that you give you access to loads of entertainment absolutely free of charge. Unfortunately there’s one slight issue for travellers, holidaymakers and indeed anyone trying to watch from outside the UK – they’re only available for people physically located in the United Kingdom.
This does seems slightly odd, however the fact remains that all the UK television sites will check your location before you are allowed to access. They’re not alone either thousands of major web sites do the same, controlling and restricting based on your actual physical location. A fact that continues to frustrate millions of people when they first discover this
After all it doesn’t really make sense, does it? One of the primary uses of sites like the BBC iPlayer or ITV Hub is to allow you to keep access your favorite shows when you’re away from your TV, like when you’re on holiday. Yet this scenario is unworkable in normal circumstances because every one of the UK media sites is blocked the moment you step outside the United Kingdom even if you just pop over on the ferry to Ireland! It should be noted that this is not just a British issue as exactly the same thing will happen to nationals of other countries too. when a US citizen leaves the USA then they also lose access to all the American online media sites too.
Fortunately there is a solution and it’s not actually that difficult.
Just Hide Your Location and Enjoy Any Online TV from Anywhere
That’s all there is to it really. None of these web sites need to know your real location, after all what’s it to do with them. The secret is to employ what’s actually a very sensible step to hide and encrypt your data when you’re online. It’s something which most companies ensure all their employees do when using corporate laptops or devices online – known simply as a VPN (Virtual private network).
Sounds technical and something just for the geeks doesn’t it? Well that’s not really true and you may be surprised to know that millions of ordinary people use these programs ever day to bypass these blocks and filters. It’s a huge market and not surprisingly the VPN market is pretty big too with lots of choice available –
Here’s a quick video of my favorite VPN service which I have been using to stream and download programmes from mainly the BBC abroad for over a decade now.
It’s called Identity Cloaker and is actually one of the most advanced and secure VPNs available. However if you’re just looking for a way to stream the BBC when outside the UK then all the security functionality is actually not that important. What is vital are the servers which Identity Cloaker connects to, which include a huge network of super fast UK based servers configured for streaming video. For streaming directly from the BBC, ITV and Channels 4 and 5 these are essential, if you want to enjoy something like Match of the Day without interruptions or buffering.
Ultimately it is these servers that are crucial, forget what the website looks like or the interface. If they don’t connect to fast UK based servers it’s all pointless at least for watching TV. This is why you have to be careful with many of the high profile VPN services which are available for very low prices unfortunately they often are blocked by the BBC and simply won’t work.
It’s the reason why there are so many rumours on the internet about VPNs not working with the BBC. Most of the low price, high volume VPN services are routinely blocked and filtered by the BBC, ITV and the other UK commercial TV channels. There’s plenty that promise to allow you to watch live TV free of blocks but so many of them simply don’t work most of the time.
Which is ultimately why I continue to use Identity Cloaker for my BBC fix and to watch UK TV online abroad.
Especially if you’ve had problems with other VPNs not working.