Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Hotspot Shield as your own Television Decoder

Regularly someone tells me about new television series which are out in the United States and aren't shown in the Netherlands. Usually I visit the website of the broadcasting company, like NBC or FOX to see what the series is about. About every show has its website with information on episodes and the cast. Almost every website offers the option to view the shows as well...

Only in America though. Viewing the series is only possible if you live in the USA, access from other countries is blocked. This nuisance is called geoblocking:

"Geoblocking is a technology that is used to prevent access to web sites from visitors in particular countries or regions.

At the moment it is mainly used by traditional broadcast companies who are moving their television, radio and music content online. Because of distribution contracts with the producers of these programmes many broadcast web sites limit access to people with in their own country.

Whenever a person connects to the internet, their computer or mobile device is assigned what is called an IP address. This is a sequence of numbers in the form 255.255.255.255. The IP address is assigned to you by the internet service
provider (ISP) that you are connecting through and these in turn are assigned to the ISP in blocks. It is therefore possible to say that a particular IP address is from a particular country or even city.

Site owners that want to use geoblocking simply choose to only allow access to a particular range of IP addresses or to block certain ranges.

This type of location based services can also be used to serve alternative content (e.g. with advertising) instead of just blocking the visitor." (Definition Web Dictionary)

The Hotspot Shield offers a way out. The application was designed to make your pc safer when you are accessing the internet from public places. To prevent you from being hacked it opens a VPN connection to the hotspot-shield server - which is USbased - and uses that as a gateway. So suddenly you're US-based and can view every television series you like.

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