So why would anyone want to change their IP address to a fake UK one? There are a variety of reasons actually but the usual answer is either TV or they’ve been blocked/banned from some forum somewhere and want to get back on. Anyway there is an answer for people who want to watch the UK TV channels on the internet from anywhere in the world. It also works if you’ve been banned from your favorite forum because some moderator just decided to ban you.
So whether it’s a pining for Match of the Day, the BBC News, documentaries or any of the wonderful UK TV channels that are only accessible to those who have a UK IP address, or disguising yourself so you can rejoin a forum – the answer is here.
The problem is that the BBC, ITV and Channel Four like most media companies online use something called geotargeting. It all sounds a bit geeky and technical but in fact is rather simple. It’s a shortened term for geographical targeting and is a simple way for a website to deliver different content to readers in different locations.
Here’s a very simple example – here’s a search conducted with a US IP address for an electrician -
You can see that the search engine has looked at the location based on my IP address and given me US based results. However on the very same computer if I use a fake UK IP address – the same search yields quite different web addresses.
I now get results based on electricians in the UK rather than the USA. Which is of course exactly what I need if I was in the United Kingdom at the time. Google looks at your IP address when you connect and uses that information to tailor it’s results and adverts.
So in this situation geotargeting is actually quite useful and you’ll find nearly all big web sites will use this technique to some extent. Unfortunately often it’s a case of blocking access rather than customising your content. For instance every large media site does this – Hulu, NBC, BBC, ITV, M6 Replay etc.
How The Web Site Determines Your Location from Your IP Address
It’s actually a very simple procedure, the moment you connect to a web site, your IP address is recorded. It is then looked up in a Country directory or database. It’s quite easy to do for your own websites too.
You can access one of these country databases from companies like Maxmind, download it and load it into a database or a spreadsheet. You can pay for a service or just run your own scripts to determine which country a particular IP address is registered to.
So this is what happens every time you get blocked from accessing a resource online because you have the ‘wrong’ IP address. So for instance here’s what you need to use the following sites -
- BBC Iplayer – UK Address
- Hulu – US Address
- Pandora - US Address
- CTV – Canadian Address
- RTE – Irish Address
- M6 Replay – French IP Address
There are obviously many more. One of the problems is many of the people who are blocked are just travelling, working abroad or Ex-Pats who just miss their home TV stations.
But of course it wasn’t long before people figured a way to bypass these restrictions. Initially discovering that you could use proxy servers to sit between you and the website you were trying to access. The proxy server IP address was the one that was checked so you could use a UK proxy for the BBC and a US proxy for sites like NBC and Hulu.
So now a mini industry has built up supplying proxies and VPNs to allow people to access the sites they wish. The very best of them supply you with a huge list of servers in different countries so that you never need to get blocked again. Many openly advertise themselves as TV proxy services but I’d be careful with those as they tend to get shut down. There’s some useful advice in this video about fake ip addresses and proxies.
Of course I use Identity Cloaker whose software is easy to use and offers access to servers in about a dozen different countries (including USA, UK, France, Germany, Canada, Australia and quite a few more).It works with just a click of a button and you can change your address to a US or a fake UK IP address or whatever you require. Their trial offer is here - Identity Cloaker. You can see it in action on this page – Watching BBC Iplayer - there’s a video towards the bottom of the page you can watch too.
There are loads of other services available though, but be careful as it’s easy to set up a proxy server and sling up a fancy TV web site. The hard part is providing fast, secure servers especially important if you’re going to be streaming video from the like of Hulu and the BBC.
Updated Post and links.