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My experience with VPNs started sometime prior to the Year 2000 shenanigans when every IT department was perpetually in a Year 2K frenzy. In those days, internet access at least on a corporate level was in it’s infancy and there was limited but growing understanding to it’s potential and dangers. Using a VPN client was relatively rare and largely restricted to larger companies able to invest in the infrastructure required. If you wanted VPN it meant IBM, Cisco or Microsoft and buying solutions from these companies could be expensive. Yet if you wanted to support proper mobile computing or allow remote access to your corporate network it was the only viable route to take.
Nowadays, using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is pretty much common place. Only last week I was discussing their use with a fourteen year old who was explaining to me why they were useful in online gaming. It was another example of how this technology, initially focused primarily on security, has now so many different uses for all sectors of society.
So for the teenage gamer it can reduce the lag as they run around shooting each other in virtual battlefields. For others of more mature years like me, it’s now an essential tool enabling us to do what the hell we want online without being blocked, filtered or restricted. Primarily for me this comes down to streaming Match of the Day while on holiday or catching up with the BBC News online when travelling abroad.
Kind of sad huh, but for me a decent VPN adds hugely to my quality of life whilst outside the UK. It’s without doubt one of the two things that I miss most when I’m not in Britain, can you guess the other?
Watch British TV Online Live
Just in case you didn’t know, most media sites including BBC iPlayer are only available to their domestic market. The minute you step outside the United Kingdom then your access is lost. The Beeb are not alone in this, all the other big media sites do the same in other countries.
A VPN simply allows you to hide your true location and pretend your somewhere else. So if you connect to a VPN based in the UK suddenly all the British sites work again (including the BBC) switch to a US server and you can access American sites too. In fact a decent, fast VPN service allows access to virtually all free content in the world – the equivalent of many expensive cable packages for free!
Here’s basically how it works, as you can see it’s pretty straightforward.
When you’re connected to the UK VPN server, then you appear to be physically in the United Kingdom and everything works fine. There’s no way for example of BBC iPlayer detecting VPN services directly although they can be blocked when overused by too many people. Other sites normally restricted to the UK will work perfectly too, sites like ITV Hub, the National Lottery and Betfair to name just a few will be fine when connected.
Which VPNs work with BBC iPlayer?
As you can see they’re very simple to use simply click on a VPN server based in Britain and that’s it. Potentially any VPN with a UK based server as it’s endpoint should allow access to the BBC. However keeping a low profile and the servers fast and not overloaded are actually the crucial factors of whether they work ok.
This is where the problems arise, especially since the BBC have started to actively block VPN services from working. They still cannot detect directly the VPN service however they can note when several hundred or thousand connections originate from the same location/server or IP address. The more people who are using the server, the more likely it is to get blocked.
Which is exactly what happens with the big VPN services all the time. You will probably hear rumours of various VPNs not working and it’s not possible to use any watch UK TV abroad app at all. It’s simply because there are literally tens of thousands of people using these services and many of them specifically to watch the BBC outside the United Kingdom. When too many connect at the same time then this is detected and access will be blocked from the BBC. The same occurs with other sites like ITV Hub and other UK TV sites however these are generally less popular so the problems are less likely to occur.
This can be solved of course, by lowering the ratio of servers and address to users. Having more servers and IP addresses shared between their users keeps them anonymous and safe from the BBC iplayer blocks. yet this costs money, increases costs and of course reduces profits. The biggest VPN companies are primarily money making businesses – the trick is to get the maximum number of users on each server to ensure the biggest profit. Yet this is exactly what causes all the problems and the frequent blocks by companies like the BBC.
Many VPN brands are run by the same companies, have you ever noticed how similar their websites are? Even the pricing plans are remarkably familiar, right up to the ridiculously long three year subscriptions. They use the same servers and infrastructure to run several VPN brands, with hundreds of thousands of users on them.
It’s a competitive business and by far the easiest way to maximise profits is to simply get more customers. Which makes it harder and harder to stay hidden and not get blocked especially if a large proportion of them want to watch live TV free of charge all the time. To be fair most of the ‘big players’ will ensure that their servers are eventually unblocked, switching hardware and IP addresses but this makes it very frustrating for customers who want to watch the BBC.
Most ‘big name’ VPN services are very frustrating to use to watch TV, it often takes ages to find an unblocked server. If you’ve tuned in to watch live BBC programmes this is even worse as you can end up missing your show entirely. It’s frustrating to log in expecting your BBC One live stream outside the UK to work perfectly without delay, because this won’t happen with the cheaper VPNs.
A three year Cyber deal VPN plan from NordVPN will allow you to watch the BBC ……sometimes. However often you’ll spend ages searching for unlocked servers just to watch your shows. Sites like the ITV Hub don’t block quite as aggressively so they’re often more reliable. However it’s frustrating and annoying when you want to watch something of an evening and it won’t work !!!
Which is why I use Identity Cloaker, they’re a small business who care primarily about their customers and servers, not the profit margins. They have a very small proportion of the users on each server compared to the large VPN companies. Which means that they are very, very rarely blocked plus they’re so fast that stream videos without buffering and slowing down your connection. It’s the perfect way to Watch British TV Online Live without the hassle.
It’s a little bit more a month, but not too much, but you’ll get much faster and more reliable access to the BBC than any other VPN I’ve tried over the last decade. Once you’ve got your VPN service sorted then you can watch UK TV online free of any charges at all.