Virtual Private Networks the expat answer to blocked British soaps

Published:  24 Dec at 6 PM
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Tagged: UK, Dubai, England
One of the most frustrating aspects of expat life outside the UK is that, for long-time fans of TV soaps, the only option is to bid goodbye to the much-loved series in exchange for great weather and a laid-back lifestyle.

Access to BBC content in particular has been blocked to all living outside the UK, although it’s possible to watch programmes on your computer provided you have a strong internet connection. Even so, once a website’s software recognises from your IP address that you’re overseas, you’ll often find access blocked yet again.

For example, logging onto BBC iPlayer from Dubai gets you a blank screen rather than the latest episode of Eastenders or Coronation Street, and you can forget most BBC sports programmes. However, there’s an answer for those with just a modicum of tech know-how – VPN packages.

The downloadable packages work by masking your overseas IP address via a Virtual Private Network (VPN), thus bypassing the blocks and fooling the networks into believing you’re browsing from your home country. British expats can choose between a number of online service providers who offer UK IP addresses able to unlock iPlayer, ITV Player and other UK-based streaming services.

Expats abroad for business reasons may already understand the technology involved, as many companies use paid VPN services so that their overseas staff can stay connected. Free VPNs can be had, but the trade-off is the number of advertisements interrupting the programmes and the fact that your activities will be logged.

VPN providers which work on a subscription basis have more advanced privacy concerns for their customers, as their revenue doesn’t depend on advertisers. For those who’d rather watch TV on a TV, most modern flat-screen televisions offer an HDML cable slot giving a high-definition pathway from your computer or laptop to your TV screen.
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