Itâ€™s kind of frustrating that here in the Philippines we don’t have access to some of the cool media streams available to viewers in America. I’m talking not just about the big services like Netflix, Spotify, Pandora and Hulu, but even region-locked video clips embedded on websites like ABC, Showtime, Bravo TV, etc.
Of course, if you’re desperate or creative, there are always workarounds for some of these services, ranging from the easy (got a Tita in California willing to loan you her credit card number and billing address? bam, now you’ve got a Spotify Premium account) to the convoluted (set up a Virtual Private Network or VPN that disguises your deviceâ€™s identity and makes it look like you’re logged in from a US location).
I just found out about a region unblocking service called UnoTelly, and it isnâ€™t as easy as mooching off a relative but it’s not as hard to set up as a VPN service. It does Â still involve a bit of fooling around with router settings and IP addresses and other things I wouldn’t consider grandparent friendly. Whatâ€™s important is that once UnoTelly is set up and running, it just works, and it works well. There’s a comprehensive guide on their site that covers the setup for almost every gadget you could possibly own, from Macs and PCs to Androids, iPads, and even PS3 and Nintendo Wii consoles.
I chose to cover all my bases in one fell swoop by configuring UnoTelly directly on my home network router. That way, every single device on my network would be able to avail of the service. I Â merely needed to look up which of UnoTelly’s DNS servers were geographically closest to me (Hong Kong and Singapore seem to be the best choices for us) and plug those numbers into my router’s setup screen. Thereâ€™s a test page on the UnoTelly site which let me know if I was configured properly.
From there, I just launched Huluâ€™s web page on my Mac and voila, I was in and watching Sting jamming with Jimmy Fallon and the Roots! I downloaded the Netflix app for my phone, created a trial account, and hello, movie streaming! I fired up my Amazon Prime account on my iPad and, hey presto, free movies and TV shows on demand! Very cool, and absolutely easy to use.
To go into a bit of technical detail, UnoTelly works a little differently from a VPN. Whereas everything you do on a VPN-equipped computer looks like it’s coming from another country, UnoTelly still retains your “Philippine citizenship”, so to speak. But by using its own set of Domain Name Servers (DNS), UnoTelly recognizes when you’re trying to get in touch with Hulu, or Pandora, or Netflix or any of the myriad of other media and content providers that it’s set up for. And only traffic going to those services is intercepted and configured to look like it’s coming Â from the US, or the UK, or wherever it is the content is hosted.
Also, unlike paid VPN services, UnoTelly does not impose a bandwidth cap – stream to your heart’s desire. But depending on your service plan, UnoTelly will even provide you with a bonus VPN account for use in situations where it’s impossible for you to configure DNS settings (i.e. hotels, 3G connections, public wifi hotspots, etc), or if you really want maximum security while you browse.
UnoTellyâ€™s site also contains another bonus: very helpful tutorials that teach how to sign up for trial accounts and even full memberships at many popular US content streaming sites, even without a US address or credit card. Whether or not you sign up for an UnoTelly account, it’s worth browsing this section just for the information value alone. Most of the solutions involve the use of an electronic prepaid VISA card service called Entropay, and I’m trying it out and seems workable. I will report back on this in a separate article.
As to the legalities of UnoTelly’s service: technically, yes, you are probably dancing around the law a bit by using it to access content from outside permissible regions, but definitely no more so than hopping onto your favorite torrent tracker and downloading the same content anyway, which is what many of Technoodling’s readers are probably doing.
An UnoTelly account costs a reasonable $3.99 a month for Premium and $4.99 for the Gold plan that comes with a bonus VPN account. Any further subscription costs to Hulu Premium, Spotify, Netflix etc are of course your own problem – UnoTelly will only get you halfway there. There’s also a 7 day free trial so you can see if it fits into your own viewing habits and if it’s right for you. I’ve been testing UnoTelly for about that length of time and it works as advertised.
Oh, and one last thing: First World programming sometimes doesn’t work so well with Third World internet speeds.
Now excuse me – I’m off to watch the new Modern Family episode!
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