The fight against geo blocking continues

During the CES conference held in June 2016, Reed Hastings (Netflix CEO) announced that the service would be available around the globe and that it would enforce new “radical” measurements to block VPN’s Proxies and others…

#Netflixeverywhere might be correct from a technical point of view, (except China and Iraq) Netflix is charging their customers the equivalent of $9.99 all around the globe, but not for the same content. Due to complicated content laws, Netflix isn’t able to let all customers have access to the same library. The differences are breathtaking – take a look yourself (source: Finder.com)

netflix-titels

The US based Netflix catalog (at the time of writing) has 1157 TV shows and about 4593 Movies. Albania, a country in Europe currently has 33 TV shows and 200 movies. Yes you read this correctly, for €9.99 per month, Albanian customers get 33 TV Shows – of which we guess, most of them are Netflix originals (That’s when Netflix is the copyright holder)

tigerVPN is the answer to our customers, when trying to access Netflix but the fight against VPN Providers (in general, not only tigerVPN) recently got upgraded to a new completely new level.

In the past, geo IP blocks where kind of easy to avoid and jumping around new IP addresses helped when some of our network IP’s got blocked by Netflix. The evolution of just blocking IP’s started to appear with regards to traffic levels.

See, Netflix is pretty aware about it’s traffic distribution. This is something that every content provider must oversee to avoid congestions and bottlenecks. When a Provider stands out (e.g. tigerVPN) in regards to size and traffic it’s easy for Netflix to block. Imagine, tigerVPN made more traffic towards Netflix directly than some countries had people with Internet access in total – an easy indicator for Netflix to apply some blockage on a specific country.

So far, we have managed to overcome this issue as well but starting with late summer 2016, we have seen an even bolder approach currently enforced both on Netflix and BBC.

But what has changed? Short answer – Apps & Browser.

When Netflix was mainly available trough the browser, the server delivering the content did not mind what IP had requested the file as long as it was not black listed or outside of Netflix’s operational regions.

However the latest “trick” in detecting a VPN/Proxy is to send a small invisible file inside the video player before the video starts to measure the latency (Latency is the time for an internet package to arrive at the final destination) between the netflix servers and your browser. When you are connected to tigerVPN, the video file is requested using our servers in the country of where you are connected to. However, the video file must still arrive on your browser and it’s being sent via the video player inside the VPN tunnel.

Netflix servers know how long it should take for a data package to arrive.
Let’s say you are connected to the UK, in the worst case, a video file from a Netflix Server to a customer in the UK should not take longer to arrive than 60 milliseconds.

However let’s say you are connecting to the UK server from China, the distance the data package has to travel (even with the speed of light) will add up latency. tigerVPN is operating a low latency high speed network, but  we can’t break the speed of light (Einstein would be proud of us if we do). This means that in the best case, those 60ms will add up to 200ms. While this is still fast enough to stream in Ultra HD, it tells Netflix that something is not “ok” and Netflix is interpreting this result as outside of the region it thinks you should be.

latency-injection

Apps (e.g. on your TV, or phone) will do the same, but can also enforce to use DNS servers hard coded in the app.
That way, even with a VPN on, the app will dial an internal DNS address, that would tell Netflix that you are “not” in the country you say you are.

Time to panic?

No, absolutely not!

We are working hard testing different ways to fight Netflix (and recently BBC’s) new geo system and we are confident, we’ll find a solution soon. Keep in mind that this is happening to all the VPN Providers, this is not a tigerVPN “only” issue. Also, with 63 Locations in 43 countries, there are so many great services still to be explored and working just fine with tigerVPN

We’ll keep you posted!