Free the Web – Well Netflix

I travel a lot with my work, unfortunately not the sort of travelling that other’s seem to manage to exotic and interesting places across the globe. Nope my travel consists of mainly industrial estates and factory towns distributed mainly across Europe. The entertainment options particularly when I don’t speak a particular language are fairly limited, especially when you factor in the limited expense account that is normally available.

You see the places I visit, don’t have tourist attractions like museums, theaters and tourist friendly bars. They have factories and supermarkets and business hotels often on the edge of a major road or industrial estate – it can get very boring. However these places usually have one distinct advantage – super fast broadband or wireless is almost always available.

Which of course means that instead of the hotel cable channel or some foreign satellite channels – potentially I have a world of up to date movies and TV shows at my fingertips all ready to stream to any device I happen to have with me. Best of all it should mean I can use my Netflix account, except for this slight problem

Netflix has always restricted access to it’s site based on a system of region locking. Meaning that you can only watch the version of Netflix that is available in the physical location you are in. Which means it doesn’t matter that I am a US Netflix subscriber, what matters is where I am actually located when I connect.

So if I’m stuck in a hotel next to a factory in Belgium, I cannot log on and watch the US version of Netflix – I have to watch the Belgian version! Now I have nothing against Belgium, but frankly their version of Netflix is nowhere near as good as the US version plus obviously not all of it is in English !!

There was a simple fix, and for many of us it was quite easy. Because I work for a US company on every laptop we have a VPN client in order to dial back into the companies servers. I generally used it for accessing invoice systems, checking my company email account and document shares – simple stuff like that. The bonus was that when this VPN was active I actually had an American IP address irrespective of my actual location. Which meant that when I connected to Netflix I got the US version not the version of the country I happened to be in that week.

Alas if you read this post you’ll find that Netflix wasn’t happy with this and blocked all access from proxies and VPNs which meant I couldn’t watch anymore – a bit annoying when I’m half a dozen episodes from the Person of Interest Finale !

So forget about using commercially based proxies or VPN services because they don’t work anymore with Netflix. You can relay through your home connection if you have the technical skills or there are some residential IP services available although they can be quite expensive.