Run out of things to watch on Australian Netflix, Prime, Foxtel, ABC, SBS, 7,9 & 10?
Even before my coronavirus-self-isolation it was increasingly difficult to find new programs to watch in Australia (especially if your looking for something humorous and light-hearted) Yet the content does exist…. if you live in the UK or Ireland, even the US.
There is an endless supply of TV content you can watch from the UK and the US, as long as you can get past the geo-restrictions.
“What are geo-restictions?” – Due to international copyright laws, some TV content is only allowed to be viewed in certain countries. It is “geo-restricted“.
If it is detected that you are trying to view content from a country outside of a geo-restriction … ie an Australian user trying to view British Programs, your attempts will be blocked.
This is done because each computer has an invisible “IP Address” which gives out the country and sometimes the city that you or your ISP (Internet-Service-Provider ie Telstra, iiNet, Optus etc.) are located, making it easy to geo-restrict access.
A ludicrous law in this day of global-consumption but until the entertainment industries gets over itself, Australia will continue to be a backwater in terms of what-we-get-to-see and when-we-get-to-see-it because of geo-restrictions.
You may have experienced such censorship yourself while trying to access SBS or ABC iView from your hotel in Bali, Hong Kong or Thailand with images such as these.
Access to overseas TV content (or Australian content while overseas) is available by using a VPN (Virtual-Private-Network)
A VPN, or virtual private network, is a secure tunnel between your device and the internet. VPNs are used to protect your online traffic from snooping, interference, and censorship.
A typical use of a VPN is to provide secure internet access between company servers and home computers using Microsoft RDC (Remote Desktop Connection)
VPN's can also act as a proxy, allowing you to mask or change your location and surf the web anonymously from wherever you want. In this way it is used to fool the source of a website or content streamer into believing the source user is from another IP address, one already located close-by or at least in the same country.
In this way, content that would normally be inaccessible to users outside of that country becomes available because the source website believes it is being accessed from within that country.
Effective VPN clients are NOT Free but not that expensive either.
There are a number of companies that advertise FREE VPN's and some work for a limited time, but they are all trying to sell you their paid VPN service.
Rather than struggle with Free VPN services and browser add-ins such a Hola, we recommend purchasing a tried-and-test VPN client
Going with #1 choice, We tried and tested Express VPN
We installed on an iPad and a Mac computer and both worked very well, with one or two caveats
Downloading the ExpressVPN desktop app
To get started, go to ExpressVPN.com and select the Get Started option at the top.
Pick the plan you want, add your email, and enter payment details.
Click Join Now. Next, choose a password or accept the one generated for you. (Be sure your password includes a few extra characters, numbers, and plenty of characters in upper and lowercase.)
You will then receive an activation code. Keep this in a secret place – meaning, not on a sticky note on your desktop.
Installing ExpressVPN on desktop
Installing ExpressVPN is easy on a desktop or laptop – although there are a few extra steps compared to the mobile client.
For the desktop, download the client and install it. The good thing about a client like ExpressVPN is that it is remarkably easy to install and configure. You've actually already done the hardest steps – choosing your plan and adding payment details. With the client, sign-in using the account you just created. Enter your activation code. Decide if you want to launch a startup and if you want to send a crash report and other data to improve the product.
Your next step is the most important one of all – selecting the location of the server.
If you wish to access TV channels in the UK, choose a UK server, if US channels, choose a US server etc.
Click the big power icon to connect. This will make your Internet connection secure. Once you connect with ExpressVPN, the app will run in the background and there's nothing more to do to use the VPN, although you can configure features and change settings.
You may notice a decrease in internet speed while the VPN is switched on, so it maybe recommended to only have it switched on while requiring it. However, if you are using the VPN simply to make your connections secure, choose the home location closest to you.
Downloading the ExpressVPN mobile app
Like any good service, ExpressVPN is available both on Apple iOS and Android – in fact, it tops our list of the best Android VPN apps – and the client works like any other app.
With the mobile app, you have the choice to start a seven-day trial. You can find it at the App Store or Play Store, or you can simply visit the ExpressVPN website to look for the mobile install.
Once you find the app, verify that the logo matches what you see on the ExpressVPN site (a V logo with wings). This is important because sometimes fake apps try to mimic the look and name of the client but are not at all the real download and could even compromise your security.
Install the app and then open it. ExpressVPN will prompt you to log in or register. If you are a new user, select the new option and type in your email address and proceed through the process for the mobile app; in most cases, you will have already registered on the ExpressVPN website and your login will work fine. For some devices, you may need the activation key. This will come up if you install ExpressVPN on any other computer or a router.
Installing and setting up ExpressVPN on mobile
The first few steps after you log in on your phone are quite easy. You'll need to agree to some prompts related to adding the VPN to your phone. Then, you'll agree to receive notifications from the ExpressVPN app.
You will decide if you want to help improve the ExpressVPN service. Like the desktop client, you will also select the country and city you want to use for the connection. And, you will select the large power icon on the screen to form the connection.
After that, similar to the desktop client, you can adjust features and settings as needed – although that's not required to use the VPN. If you are connected, you are secure! You can proceed to install the app on any other mobile device you own.
Where else can I use the VPN on?
Although Express VPN works very smoothly, here are a couple of points we discovered whilst using it.
- Most TV channels work through a browser, but on an iPad or tablet you may need to use the recommended App, as using a browser causes freezing issues.Only problem is that if Apple App store thinks you are not in that country, it will not allow you to access the required app. You may need to logout of your current Apple ID and login again with an Apple ID associated with that country. Messy but I believe it works.
- Accessing sites such as bbc, ITV, Channel 4, will all require you to add a UK address. I am sure you can find one quite easily using Google Maps.
- Using the VPN on a computer connected to the router by Wi-Fi caused some issues. So recommend connecting any device to the router using an ethernet cable.
We recommend signing up for the FREE TRIAL and having a play-with before purchasing to see if it is something that you are going to get some use out of. At least it may provide you with some entertainment for 7 days of your lockdown.