Taiwan Beers were open on on the coffee table. It was four in the morning on a Tuesday and six Canadian English teachers were in my apartment crowded around my computer, waiting to watch the Canadian hockey team battle it out with the Russians in the Olympics.
“How do we watch it?” I asked.
“My brother told me that CBC is streams all the games live.”
I opened the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, for the non-Canucks out there) website and clicked on the video.
A little circle spun in the middle of the video. Then a message popped up.
“This video is not available in your area.”
First there were groans of disappointment. Then there was panic. I googled sports streaming websites looking for one that would allow us to see the match, but to no avail, and we missed an epic hockey game.
Such are the travails of life overseas.
The Solution For Streaming Video Abroad
That was about five years ago. I have since become aware of magical Internet wormholes called VPNs (virtual private networks). that enable you to make it look to the Internet as though your computer is in another country.
This is how people in China are able to access Facebook even though it’s blocked by the government.
I’ve tried out a couple of free VPNs before. They work OK, but they’re pretty slow.
The thing about a VPN is that every time you request information from the Internet it has to be transferred through the VPN, and that requires a lot of computing power. So data only reaches your computer as fast as the VPN can send it, which means popular free services can be very slow — much too slow for my favorite bandwidth-intensive activity: streaming video.
Tunnel Bear sent me an email a few weeks ago asking if I would review their premium VPN service, which at the time of writing was $4.99 USD/month or $49.99/year. They would give me a free membership and compensate me for the time it took write a review. The Tunnel Bear folks were confident that I’d love the service, and agreed to my stipulation that I could write anything I wanted. If I hated it and said so, they’d still pay.
“Sure,” I said. I was about to head to Mexico for a week and wanted to keep up with Dexter on my American Netflix account. So, when I got to the hotel I connected to the Internet, turned on Tunnel Bear and set it to USA, and was streaming right away.
There was no buffering. No delay. It was like I was watching at home.
Two days ago I landed in Bangkok, so I thought I’d give it another shot here too. Again, Netflix loaded just as quickly as at home.
Tunnel Bear provides VPN masking (or ‘tunnels’) that can make it look like you are browsing from any of the following countries:
- United States
I should note here that Tunnel Bear is the first premium VPN I’ve tried, so I’m not really in a position to make comparisons. But, for $50/year, it seems pretty cheap to me and like a pretty rad option for keeping up with your favorite teams and TV shows from home.