Wednesday, February 16, 2011

BBC iPlayer outside of UK

I'm an avid BBC watcher and listener even though I am neither British nor do I live there.
Unfortunately, this means that the much-vaunted BBC iPlayer is not available to me.
Now I had actually used it some time ago using a proxy server through Firefox although I believe this is no longer functional.
But the other day, I saw that a BBC iPlayer app was available for the iPad. Of course, for the moment, it's only available to residents of Great Britain which I am not. Nevertheless, I just happen to have an iTunes account with an address in Britain so I used that to install this free app.
However, still couldn't get the app to play as it complained about me not being in Great Britain.
Well, I could try a proxy again but then I saw that a lot of non-UK people were using a VPN connection to disguise their real IP and therefore make the BBC iPlayer functional. And the most-mentioned VPN in this context was UKiVPN.
I paid €6.50 for a one-month 5GB UK-only allowance just to test it out.
Even though they warned me that providing a "free" email address such as @gmail might delay the creation of my account, it actually took less than 2 hours to receive my username and password by email..
I first set it up on my MacBook which has an ethernet connection.
Setup is very easy and I reprint the essential points here:

First go into system preferences then Network.
In the window listing your connections Click the + button.
In the pop up set the following:
Interface to VPN
VPN Type to PPTP
Service Name to anything you want, for example UKiVPN, click the Create button.
Set Encryption to "Maximum (128 bit only)" and Configuration set to "Default"
Set the Server Address:
For UK -
For US -
For UK -
For US -
For UK -

For account name enter your Username.
Click the Authentication Settings button.
For User Authentication, select 'Password' and enter your Password. Click 'OK'
Click the 'Advanced" button
Under "Options" tab, in "Session Options" select:
Disconnect when switching user accounts
Disconnect when user logs out
Send all traffic over VPN connection
Press "OK"

Your VPN connection you have just set up will now be available in the menu bar, click Connect to use.

Now I opened a browser, and navigated to "" and everything worked perfectly.
No problems whatsoever.
OK, but what about the iPad?
Well, I used the setup instructions for the iPhone to setup the VPN connection as reprinted here:
Turn on your WiFi (or use 3G if you have a strong signal).
Add VPN Configuration
Select PPTP
Description: Enter “UKiVPN”
For UK -
For US -
For UK -
For US -
For UK -

Account: Enter Username
Password: Enter Password
Encryption Level: Enter “Maximum”
Send All Traffic: set to “ON”
Make sure Proxy is OFF
Make sure RSA SecurID is OFF
Make sure this VPN is selected if you have multiple VPN settings
(a √ sign indicates that it is selected)
Turn on VPN (slide switch to “ON”)
Once connected, you should be able to view sites in the country of the VPN server you entered in 9, above, by navigating to the appropriate site in a browser window (eg.
You should disconnect from UKiVPN when not in use.

Setting up was trouble-free. However, the BBC iPlayer app that I had already installed still didn't work when the iPad was connection through the VPN.
Although it opened and did not give the "wrong country" error, it persistently failed to load the programme once I had selected what to watch. I don't know if this means that the VPN connection is just to slow when hooked up through the iPad wifi connection.
So, opened a browser (I use atomic web) and surfed to and this looked better but not perfect.
In general, I could get something to play for maybe 20 seconds and then it stopped, waited a minute or two, then started again for another 20 seconds.
I conclude that my wifi connection is not sufficiently strong to receive a strong signal but I'll research this and see what can be done to improve matters.

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