The Fifth Column: Region Streaming
Given that I don’t have DSTV or even an aerial connection to my TV, I thought that it was high time to check out what the Internet had to offer in terms of streaming media options. I had done some research on NetFlix and Hulu before and they looked like ideal candidates. The only snag was the pesky region protection but with a little more research I found a few options which allowed me to bypass region blocks without too much hassle.
The reason that I shortlisted NetFlix is because of its large library of older movies and series. Hulu on the other hand has alot of the more recent TV series so the two services combined cover a good range of content. Amazon also has a streaming service and if you are keen on content from the UK, BBC and Sky have good online offerings as well. I thought that the tricky part would be in paying for the services. I figured that because the services are region protected that they would also block payments from outside the designated regions but apparently neither Netflix or Hulu care which region your credit card is registered in, so payment is not a problem.
Once you have selected your preferred media service provider, the next step is decide on which service you want to use to spoof your region. In order for me to watch region protected content from the USA my modem has to appear as if it is connected to a network in that region. There are a number of ways to do this, the one is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection. You can use a free VPN service but the problem with most of the free services is that the network speed can be very slow which is not ideal for video streaming. The service that I prefer is UnoTelly, their claim to fame is that they only route the video streaming traffic and nothing else. They also claim to route the traffic directly to you from the media service provider, this means that you should have very little degradation of your line speed which means that the streaming should be smooth and responsive. The other great thing about UnoTelly is that they do not have a bandwidth cap which means that you can stream to your heart’s content, provided of course that your Internet access is uncapped.
The other great selling point of NetFlix, Hulu and UnoTelly is that they all offer free trials. NetFlix offers you a month, while Hulu and UnoTelly offer you a week. This is more than enough time to assess the services and decide if they meet your needs.You can also use the trial period to check if your Internet access is sufficient to handle the load. I have read that a 2Mbps line is sufficient but I am a bit skeptical of this as a minimum requirement. If your line is dedicated to video streaming, then it may work but if there are multiple users connected to the line then you should probably bank on a 4Mbps line as a minimum requirement.
A video streaming service like NetFlix or Hulu can be a good option for your home entertainment requirements. If you already have a high speed, uncapped DSL connection then the added cost of a NetFlix subscription is not a budget breaker. A streaming media service may even be a better option than DSTV because it is all on demand you can stop, start and pause the video as you wish and you are not bombarded by adverts. If you do not have a high speed, uncapped account then you may have to weigh up the added costs against the offerings of the satellite TV services. Given that the DSL line upgrades are scheduled for next month, now might be an ideal time to sign up for the NetFlix and UnoTelly trial accounts. Bump up your DSL speed and bandwidth cap for a month and test drive the services so that you can make an informed decision on whether it is worth the price of admission.