Geo-blocking is the act of preventing access to content based on the users’ geographical location. In other words, sites and services take advantage of geo-blocking technology in order to prevent users in certain locations from accessing their content.
While on the surface this action may seem nefarious, there are valid reasons related to licensing agreements for why a site will geo-restrict access to content for specific users.
Nevertheless, being geo-blocked can be a massive inconvenience. Looking to get around geo-blocks? A VPN or Smart DNS router can help your entire network get to the content you desire.
But first, let’s see why online businesses limit access to users.
Why Do Sites Use Geo-Blocking?
A common example of geo-restriction users outside of the United States many experience is being blocked from accessing Hulu. As one can see from the above image, anyone who tries to watch an episode of The Handmaid’s Tale outside of the United States will be geo-blocked.
Hulu and Netflix are geo-restricted due to licensing agreements with content creators. Hulu is only available in the United States. Netflix is available around the world, but you will have to subscribe to a region-specific version of the service. Furthermore, these region-specific versions of Netflix have limited content based on licensing agreements.
In the past, users would have been able to take advantage of a Virtual Private Network to access these services from outside of the licensed areas. Some of these advantages include
- Tunneling your network connection to a VPN server.
- Providing an extra layer of protection.
- Allowing you to appear as if you are in the location of the VPN server.
This allows to get around geo-blocking. If a program was only available in the US, selecting a US server from a VPN service would have let you access the programming. However, Hulu and Netflix both block servers from VPN services.
Using a SmartDNS Router to Stream Geo-Blocked Content
Fortunately, there are solutions. Geo-blocked users unable to access Hulu and Netflix can take advantage of ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer SmartDNS app. SmartDNS works by changing the DNS of your device, re-routing your data through a proxy server. This is not the same as using a VPN, as a SmartDNS service will not encrypt your IP address. However, with this, services cannot ban SmartDNS proxy servers in the same way they block IP addresses from VPN servers.
Moreover, users looking to access the SmartDNS service on their entire home network should consider using the ExpressVPN OpenWRT WRT3200ACM FlashRouter listed above. With this router, connected devices without native SmartDNS support (such as game consoles or Smart TVs) will be able to use the service.
Streaming Sports and Blackouts
Another area where users have to worry about geo-blocking is within the domain of streaming sports. For instance, if you are a subscriber to MLB.tv, you will be subject to all games being potentially subject to local, regional, or even national blackouts. With many streaming sports services, if your local Fox, NBC, or ABC TV station has exclusive rights to local games, you will be blacked out from viewing these games.
Most streaming sports services have not taken the same steps that general video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu have towards blocking VPNs. To get around being blacked out, you can tunnel your traffic through a VPN server from a provider like NordVPN.
Pairing a VPN provider with a FlashRouter unlocks countless possibilities for your home network. With our new FlashRouters Privacy App, users can:
- Easily select from different VPN server locations across the globe via a simple dropdown menu.
- Easy device management, including a kill switch and VPN bypass by device.
- Navigate pages seamlessly with an optimized UI.
This solution makes it infinitely easier for users to access geo-blocked content from anywhere in the world!
Have an unanswered question about geo-blocking? Send it over to the FlashRouters Team for the latest solutions.