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The quest for British Television is one that consumes many people all across the world. People who live in Britain and have no experience of things like US and Australian TV of course won’t quite understand. However if you’ve ever tried to watch a film or drama and been constantly interrupted with adverts for drugs, insurance or medical care every few minutes you will understand. There’s the little matter of quality too, the BBC and the commercial UK television stations may have their critics but they’re also packed full of world class, quality entertainment to rival any media provider anywhere in the world.
Indeed for many of us, the BBC is enough to provide all our TV entertainment needs. For instance, my interests are dramas, politics, sports and current affairs – for all of these apart from maybe Sport the BBC is simply wonderful. However luckily for me – my sporting needs are also met by their coverage of the lower leagues of the English Football league. To watch these matches the BBC is totally indispensable as they send radio broadcast teams to nearly every match. Yes you can actually listen to full live coverage of a Conference football match between someone like Solihull Moors versus Salford on a Tuesday evening! At some of these matches, the commentary team practically double the actual attendance figures so it’s certainly not entirely a commercially driven decision.
So whether you’re an expat, someone working abroad, on an extended holiday or simply love British TV the ability to watch UK television like the BBC online is worth a lot. Unfortunately although all the UK television companies broadcast online, you can’t normally watch it from outside the UK. This is because it’s blocked by all the media companies for a variety of reasons including copyright restrictions and profit maximisation. Even if you pay the UK TV license, there’s no standard option to access these channels when you’re outside the UK.
Over the years though, literally millions have discovered various options to bypass these blocks. Indeed it’s reliably estimated that the BBC iPlayer has more viewers outside the UK than legitimate ones who are watching from within Britain. Different solutions work now than a few years ago and unfortunately the completely free methods are not available anymore at least for watching the BBC. There are some methods that work and they’re relatively inexpensive too, here’s the simplest and cheapest.
UK TV Abroad DNS Solution
The problem is relatively simple, all the sites use something called geo-location to determine where you are physically located. They do this by looking at your IP address and checking where it’s registered too. Unfortunately this is not something you can change easily, your address is allocated to you when you connect to the internet. So if you connect from Paris you’ll have a French IP and so on, anything other than a UK address and you’ll be blocked.
The fix is also pretty straight forward, hide your real location and pretend you’re accessing from the UK. Using something called Smart DNS is the simplest way to do this by far and anyone can do it without any real technical knowledge. Now it might seem odd that you can bypass these blocks using DNS, which stands for Domain Name System and is the way addresses are resolved across the internet. However it’s merely a solution that has been developed to make it easier to hide your location.
Previously people had to use things like proxy or VPN services to hide their location which were straightforward to use on computers but rather difficult to implement on things like Smart phones, tablets or things like Chromebooks. Smart DNS was designed to work on virtually any device without any software or network connection changes.
So What do You Do?
Well all you need to do is modify your DNS settings and change them to point to a Smart DNS servers instead.
Here’s an example from a windows computer –
All you need to do is to replace your existing DNS server with the Smart DNS ones, which you get from your provider. The settings will be in different places depending on what device you are using, but they’re generally under network connections or TCP/IP settings. As long as you have an active account and enable them for your connection (usually a click on a button) then that’s all you need to do.
The process is demonstrated in this video, where you can actually see it working –
What happens is that the new ‘Smart DNS servers’ work in exactly the same way as your previous ones, with one small difference. When they detect that you’re trying to visit one of the ‘geo-restricted’ websites, your connection will be rerouted temporarily through a server in the correct country. So for example if you try and access the BBC from Spain your connection will be routed through a UK server. It doesn’t do this indefinitely, just enough to fool the BBC that your in the UK then everything is returned to normal.
This has several benefits, you don’t need to install any software or anything like that. You don’t need to physically connect to different servers depending on what you are trying to access, it’s all done in the background. Most importantly your entire connection doesn’t need to be routed through a server in another country, which invariably will significantly slow down your computer. In fact after setting up Smart DNS initially, you don;t even know it’s installed it works seamlessly in the background silently dodging the blocks and filters on the web’s best media sites.
It’s difficult to explain how simple it really is but Smart DNS is by far the most straight forward solution to the rising number of blocks and filters that these sites are implementing. It can potentially unlock hundreds of sites but mostly people use it for certain popular media sites – here’s just a few I use regularly when abroad.
- BBC iPlayer (of course)
- BBC Radio
- Channel 4 and 5
- Sky GO (Need a subscription though)
- Netflix (Allows me to access the US version from anywhere which is way better than any other Netflix!)
- Pandora (US only free online Jukebox/Radio station – try it!)
There’s loads more though, I know many in Expat communities who use Smart DNS to access French, German, US stations and even a few who use it to watch Indian television online. It’s definitely not just a solution for UK TV abroad DNS can access loads more sites too.
Anyway you don’t need to take my word for it! If you want to watch any of these channels or some other geo-restricted sites then simply check out the free trial on offer of my favorite provider.