The World Wide Web is an amazing tool that destroys the boundaries between countries and continents and allows everyone to access information from wherever they are in the world. Except that's not always true. Perhaps you've visited a website or tried to purchase a video game and been met by the message "this content is not available at your location", or even worse, you've been shown content that's different depending on where you live without you ever realising. At this point it becomes just "Your Local Region Web" - not quite as World Wide as you've been lead to believe. In some cases this regionalisation is useful - perhaps you want to see shopping search results for your local currency and local online shops, but the most important thing is that you gain control over what you see rather than letting it be dictated elsewhere. Here at Bordersdown we've always challenged the borders imposed on the purchase of physical media, be it due to inferior quality PAL ports, slow release schedules or just to be able to play games that will never get released outside of Japan. With the dawn of a new age of downloadable (or streaming) media, we need to adapt because content providers are already evolving to figure out new ways to limit who gets to access to what subset of the total available.
Sometimes download content is limited by a region flag on the hardware itself which presents the extra barrier of owning more than one region of hardware. However, often the only limit is implemented via geo-location, so as long as you can pretend to be somewhere else, you can open up your options. For example, well known TV and Film provider Netflix has one catalogue for US residents, with many another catalogues for other countries and there are significant differences that make it worthwhile taking action, mainly that the US gets more. Similarly the BBC iPlayer is locked to regions where residents fund the British Broadcasting Corporation via their TV license fee, but ex-pats around the world might find it hard to live without Gardener's World or the amazing coverage of the 2012 Olympic Games. Or if you are into your streaming music, you might have been using the Pandora service before it became US only.
There are various services that can help with overcoming these issues and they normally use either VPN or DNS technology. VPNs pass all your data through a tunnel to a server located in the required region. This will work but requires the VPN provider to have enough bandwidth to essentially duplicate what your ISP is already doing at speeds fast enough to stream video or download games, so it is expensive and often bandwidth capped per month. The DNS option is less expensive because it only passes a small portion of the total data request, just enough to fool the provider that your location is elsewhere.
We have been extensively testing UnoTelly's UnoDNS service
. We have monitored it's performance and stability over 9 weeks at various times of the day. In our tests it performed admirably and stayed available at all times, making it an excellent option. Also there is a large and growing list of content channels and devices that UnoTelly works with (see their website). They have servers in various locations around the world so you can choose one close to you to get the best performance so that your DNS lookups still happen quickly. If you don't know (or care) what a DNS lookup is, then you'll be pleased to know that most importantly the service is easy enough for anyone to figure out and use.
To use the UnoDNS service, you have two main options. You can either modify your router’s DNS setup so that all the devices in your home act the same way, e.g. an entire home in the UK appears to be in the US. Alternatively if your individual devices support it, you can set some to be in the UK and some to be in the US. Why would you want to do the latter? Perhaps you want to quickly access both US and UK content channels without playing about with your router settings. Either way, set up is very easy if you have ever played with your networking settings on a router or your devices and if not there are easy to follow guides available on Your Local Region Web.
However, UnoTelly is also beta trialling a new service called Dynamo whereby you apply one DNS setting on the router and then choose your preferred location on a website admin panel, with the option to instantly switch to another location if you want to switch between locations. This worked very well so will no doubt be the option of choice when it is rolled out to all servers.
Occasionally you will still hit a barrier. Whilst Amazon Instant Video will work fine on a PC with the DNS service, if you are in the UK and browse the app list on an Xbox360 with a US Live account, the Amazon Instant Video app will appear, but will be blocked from actual download. To get the app you will need a VPN and a Gold US Live sub. After the app is downloaded, it will work fine with your UK Live sub and without the VPN (just the DNS). The UnoDNS Gold pack includes a bonus VPN you can use for this. You’ll also need an Amazon Prime account or free trial. All this information is provided on the UnoTelly support pages.
If your ISP gives you a dynamic IP so that your IP address changes every now and then (when you turn off the router), or if you want to take the service with you to a friend's house, or use it on a mobile away from home, that's all been thought of, with a simple webpage button to update your current IP address to the service, so you can use it on your phone on the move and then continue when back at home. It's all very well thought out. You can trial UnoDNS for free
Region locking has been a regular hurdle for open-minded gamers. It’s good to know there are options out there to make bringing these borders down a little easier.
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