To answer the question – how does the BBC Know I’m Using a VPN we must first detail a little background knowledge that’s important.
- What is a VPN and how does it work
- Why you should use a VPN for BBC iPlayer
- How BBC iPlayer will detect if you are using a VPN
- Which countries can access the full range of BBC programming on their website
- Which VPN services work well with to watch BBC iPlayer
What is a VPN and how does it work
A VPN is a virtual private network. It create a secure connection from one computer to another computer through the Internet. Connecting to the internet using a VPN will make it appear as if you are in another location than where you really are. This means that if I live in the United States and connect through a VPN which is located in the UK then everyone will think I’m in the UK. There are many advantages to this beyond the privacy aspect.
The main one is that many sites restrict access based on your location. By using a VPN you can bypass all these restrictions by effectively changing your location at will. The VPN service must have servers available in the countries you need to access though.
Why you should use a VPN for BBC iPlayer
A VPN is generally used to protect data and privacy online although it can also help people access blocked content on the internet. Normally you cannot access BBC iPlayer over the internet if you’re based outside the United Kingdom. However by using a VPN you can hide your real location and watch the site exactly like a UK resident free of charge.
Unsurprisingly this makes them very popular and millions of people across the world use VPNs to enjoy British TV direct from the BBC. In fact in any ex-pat community you’ll find most people have access to some sort of VPN to keep in touch with their favourite TV shows from home. It’s not just the BBC, the best VPNs can be used to access all the UK television stations online including ITV Hub.
So if you want to access any geo-locked content like the BBC iPlayer the simplest solution is to use a VPN. Remember you must connect to a VPN server in the UK before visiting any website which restricts access based on location or IP.
How BBC iPlayer will detect if you are using a VPN
Although technically the BBC is unable to detect directly whether you’re using a VPN there are lots of tell-tale signs which are indicators. The biggest one is the IP addresses which are assigned to the VPN servers themselves.
There’s two main issues with these addresses –
- IP addresses are usually registered as commercial ranges, unlike home users who will have residential IP addresses.
- The VPN users will usually be sharing the IP addresses, meaning there can be thousands of connections from each address.
Both these are heavy indicators of a VPN connection and unsurprisingly BBC iPlayer will keep track of IP addresses and blacklists them so they can’t connect any more. These are the primary factors which stop specific VPNs from working with the BBC iPlayer. However it’s also a big problem if you want to watch other restricted content like ITV player, 4OD etc using your VPN.
Which countries can access the full range of BBC programming on their website
As long as your VPN is not blocked by the BBC then you can access the full range of BBC programmes from anywhere in the world. Your actual physical location is immaterial as the only address seen is that of the VPN server itself. Therefore you can stream BBC from anywhere in the world.
It works for pretty much an geo-restricted site too, so you can unblock TV sites from all over the world. You will need access to a VPN server in that specific location though. The best VPN services usually provide plans that cover many countries – the NordVPN basic subscription includes servers in over 60 countries for example.
Which VPN services work well with to watch BBC iPlayer from anywhere
Whilst it’s true that the BBC iPlayer has become much more aggressive in blocking VPNs lately there are still many VPN services which work with this site. So how you can still get around the BBC iPlayer VPN block ! It’s difficult to list them all because they change all the time. Generally thought they come in two main categories that still work –
- Smaller or Premium VPN services which have less users on each server.
- Larger VPN services which have committed to maintaining access and rotate their IP addresses regularly and monitor the numbers on specific servers.
A great cost effective VPN that does still work is called NordVPN. However you should ensure that you use the specific servers that are optimised for accessing the BBC iPlayer in particular. If you do try them, make sure you use one of these servers before connecting to the BBC – UK# 1840-1847, 1850-1863, 1865, 1869, 1873, 1875-1878, 1880-1881, 1900-1901, 1903-1904, 1911, 1913, 1917, 1919-1920.
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