Virtual Private networking gives access to UK and US television and other media to expats everywhere. It really works! Here's how.
Even for a well-integrated expat there are some things from “home” that are nice to have. One of them is television, which is why so many of you have Sky TV, but satellite reception does have its limits.
Line-of-sight between your dish and the satellite is needed and you can only watch one channel at a time – although the latest boxes do allow viewers to record a second channel. But for live viewing on the family set, it’s either the football game or Earthflight – not both at once.
Wouldn’t it be ideal if you could watch a second channel on your computer, iPad or Android in France just like Sky subscribers can in the UK? For copyright reasons, even free-to-air channels are usually blocked to foreign ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and downloading books in English (see Mailbag issue 145) or iPhone and iPad apps is almost impossible for expats.
Enter VPN (Virtual Private Network). Initially conceived for businesses requiring secure private connections for transmitting sensitive data, it’s available for home use as well. A VPN connection tricks websites or other content providers into thinking you are in the UK or the US, even when you are in France (or elsewhere). Suddenly, UK or US television and web content becomes possible here.
It allows viewing in any room of the house where there is a computer and an existing Ethernet connection or Wi-Fi.
There are few limitations. If you don’t have a Sky subscription you can only use VPN for free-to-air channels, but with a Sky card ID you can catch up on films you missed on Sky Anytime or watch films on Sky Go. The Sky Player app can be used on iPad to watch news live and the day’s featured news content.
With VPN you can also use BBC iPlayer or watch 4-on-Demand from anywhere in the world. ITV public channels are also available. For US viewing, NetFlix and Amazon Instant Video can be accessed under the same conditions as in the States.
So how easy is VPN to put in place? Surprisingly for such advanced technology, quick and simple. You need a VPN account provided by HasEurope.com.
They’ll send you an easy to understand information sheet explaining how to connect to the internet using VPN with whichever computer system you have – Windows, Mac, Android, iPad etc.
Configuration and connection the first time takes only a minute or so, and then it does not have to be repeated. The cost is about a fifth of what you pay for your daily cup of coffee. HasEurope offers UK/US VPN accounts for €150 a year or €75 with purchase of a Sky card through them. HasEurope’s Hopper Box allows connection of devices that are not normally VPN compliant, such as internet-enabled TV, Smart TV, Apple TV, some game consoles, media players and Kindle Fire.
Don’t count on being able to anonymously pirate films from P2P sites though – it’s forbidden and illegal.