Virtual UK residence

I post this just in case it might help anyone else with similar problems or desires to my own.

Being keen on football and being English I enjoyed last year playing (badly) the Telegraph Fantasy Football game so I tried to sign up again this year. They have improved the game but also improved the system running it such that at some point in the registration process it kept telling me that my IP address was not acceptable and ended the registration. This is a similar problem I would often encounter with interesting radio transmissions, live football, golf, formula 1, etc, also with anything available on the excellent BBC iPlayer and with certain videos attached to news items too. Although I understand the legalities behind it, more or less, it has been a source of some annoyance for quite a while now. This latest blockage by the Telegraph spurred me on to find a solution.

Can I use BBC iPlayer outside the UK?

Rights agreements mean that BBC iPlayer television programmes are only available to users to download or stream (Click to Play) in the UK. However, we are aware of demand for an international version.

Most radio programmes are available outside the UK in addition to podcasts, although sporting and other programmes may be subject to rights agreements.

In addition, many BBC News programmes are available for viewers outside the UK, as are BBC Sport highlights.

Do make sure you check for the latest updates on BBC iPlayer or contact your own country’s broadcasters to find out if they offer a similar service to BBC iPlayer.

Everyone knows the problem is that my IP address gives me away as being located in Poland and so what you need to do is change your IP address into something more suitable. There are ways to ‘cloak’ your IP such that it appears to come from either nowhere or a random country. These may be okay for security issues but for my purposes I needed something to positively identify me as being in the UK, that means I needed to connect my computer to a server in the UK.

In the past I’ve had a go at assorted free “proxy servers” that people have suggested might help but I’ve found all of them to provide very unreliable service, if they worked at all, and so I sort of gave up on the whole thing. Now with new impetus I searched again and found the “UK Proxy Server” service. I signed up for the free trial and gave it a very successful workout first of all dealing with the Fantasy Football but then going on to listen to the open golf championship and then watch it and other programmes on the BBC iPlayer. It really couldn’t be any simpler to deal with – they give you an IP address a username and a password, you create a new network connection using all these details and bingo, you’re finished in 2 minutes or less. You then connect to the internet in the usual way, then activate the new connection as well and as far as the virtual world is concerned you are moved seamlessly from Warsaw to somewhere in the UK. When you don’t want to be in the UK you just close the new connection and it leaves you with your normal one working as it always did. For example, my mail programme doesn’t work when I’m in the UK, not exactly a big deal.

I’ve chosen the VPN (virtual private network) option as opposed to the proxy server and the smaller bandwidth version, 30Gb/month as opposed to the unlimited one. As with anything that is well put together and works as it is supposed to work, there’s a cost involved. In my case it costs 100.99 GBP per annum (or 10.99 per month), this is perhaps a little steep but considering the things I’ll be able to access now I think it is good value – even if only for the Saturday football radio and Match of the Day on the Beeb on the Sunday!

I’m certain there are cheaper ways of doing this, possibly also as reliable although my experience differs but if so I’ve never been able to find them and therefore I’m more than happy to have found this and that it installed and worked in a very painless fashion.

One warning. If you pay using ‘paypal’ be sure you double check the subscription for ongoing payments that is automatically set up. Mine was going to make the annual payment EVERY month!! It is easily cancelled and I’m certain from correspondence with their customer service that this is not a scam but a technical issue with paypal.

Last thought, comment. The statement I’m making here is that I’m happy to pay for access to UK generated content from my home in Warsaw, in this case BBC radio and TV primarily. I can understand why certain bodies might want to try and stop me getting this for free but surely it’s in their interests for my money to go directly to them rather than where it is going. Maybe they could think about how they could provide this as an option in future instead of just telling me “You live in the wrong place – bog off!”.


9 thoughts on “Virtual UK residence

  1. You got that right. My fantasy is to wake up one day and there will have been a complete redesign of licensing, copyright, and distribution schemes across the globe, and they are now integrated. No more locked mobile phones either. Laws, contracts, and corporate mindsets have not nearly kept pace with technology and what people really want.

    Right now I can’t get my hands on HBO programming produced in Poland. And getting BBC programming via cable costs a fortune because it’s bundled with all kinds of crap I have no interest in. So I wait and watch stuff years later on DVD. Ugh.

  2. You said it.

    I took a survey a while back from the BBC and made this point: I will pay you the equivalent of the tv license cost (about 12 quid a month or so), if you allow me to watch BBC content using iPlayer. You get the money, I get to watch UK tv. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

    We have a friend who works as a reporter at BBC and we discussed this with him on our many visits to the UK. He says it’s something to do with copyright and licensing laws and that the license they have for most things is within the UK only.

    Wish they’d sort that out…

  3. You might (maybe) get into trouble with your ISP for changing your IP address. Some of them, I’ve read on the interweb, don’t like the idea of you using these ‘geo-masking’ techniques. I’m not sure if a paid service makes it more legitimate, but be careful! You might get cut off.

    And in regards to radio, you should be able to listen to BBC radio online without the iplayer. It’s really just TV where they get you.

  4. Dave, we’ll see what happens. When the VPN is is use the other connection is also running alongside, not sure if it knows the IP has changed and if so, what it does about that.

    Kinga – lets start a “movement”!

    DC – we’ve got tons of HBO on DVD here, what do you need?

  5. Scatts –

    I read this article the other day:

    so of course I was interested. I have no idea if any of this has even been released on DVD. It just bugs me that it’s a US-based company and I still can’t get it. And people wonder why we have no clue about the outside world….heh heh.

    I’ll be in Kraków sometime in the next 9 months so I can look around in the stores. But if you happen to have any of the titles from the article, drop me a line.

    There’s another Dave on here – I’ll have to remember to stick to “DC.” :-)

  6. Can’t really argue with this, much as I would like to insist that Brits should have access to BBC TV wherever they are. It’s just not going to happen sadly.

    As somebody else said BBC radio shoudln’t be a problem. I listen to BBC 7 and Radio 4 all the time for free from their respective websites.

  7. Most BBC radio is fine, I agree, but try listening to any sporting event live and you’ll find you are blocked. Open golf, formula 1 and all football on Saturdays, for example.

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