The importance and value of having access to residential IP addresses is becoming a big issue for internet users. So what is a residential IP address and why is it so important? The reality is that you almost certainly already have one, if you connect via a modem/router through a standard ISP they will assign you a specific IP address to your connection. This will be your public facing IP address that you use online, it’s entirely separate from any internal networking you do. If you go to any check your IP address web site, the number you will see is the IP address that has been assigned by your ISP – here’s mine, heavily edited of course as I’ve just watched an episode of Mr Robot!
This was assigned to my modem automatically by my ISP British telecom, I have no control over other than the ability to ask for another one. However this British Residential IP Address says a lot about me and actually controls a lot of my online experience – for example using this address, the following applies:
- I can watch BBC and BBC iPlayer without restriction
- All my search engines will default to the UK version
- I will be blocked if I try and watch HBO online
- I will only get the International version of RTE (Irish TV broadcaster)
- I will be restricted to the UK version of Netflix
That’s just a start but hopefully gives you the picture about how this specific address assigned by my ISP has so big an effect about what I can do online. Of course, lots of people don’t like this – they don’t want to be classified, redirected and filtered based on the (mostly) profit related decisions of the big online companies. I want to watch the BBC when I’m on holiday, I like watching Gaelic football and I know that the US version of Netflix is better than all the others combined!
There used to be a simple solution, you could just use something like a VPN/proxy service to hide your real IP address and display another one. There are a host of inexpensive services which allow you to connect via servers in different countries as needed, to use the BBC you’d use a UK service, for Hulu a US address one and so on. All that mattered was the geographical location of the server you were using, nothing else was important with regards to accessing web resources.
It’s just got more complicated and we can thank Netflix for this. For years all these companies have been trying to block and deter use of these anti-region locking services. Proxies pretty much died a death, you haven’t been able to use a simple proxy for Netflix for many years, however VPNs if set up properly are virtually invisible. They can be tracked down of course in a few ways such as manually subscribing to the service, monitoring for multiple connections on single addresses and other such methods. However although this information can be used to create blacklists to block access, it’s quite a dynamic situation as these addresses can be swapped out quickly and painlessly by the VPN services.
Netflix took another route and not only enforced traditional region locking, forcing you to connect to your local service, they also blocked any access from commercial based IP addresses. Unfortunately this includes nearly all the VPN services who use huge blocks of IP addresses which are all centered around commercial ranges. It didn’t matter how well they’re VPN was configured, which location they were from – if the IP address wasn’t a residential one then you’ll be blocked.
Most VPN Services Stopped Working with Netflix
It’s true, search around the web – literally hundreds of thousands of Netflix users who used VPNs, proxies or Smart DNS to connect to different versions of Netflix (usually the US one) were blocked overnight. The reason they all used almost exclusively IP addresses which were classified as commercial and are now completely useless for accessing Netflix servers. The worry is that seeing the success of this tactic then the other media companies will follow suit.
There is hope however, and I’m pleased to see that Identity Cloaker are among the first to come up with a solution. What they have done is integrate some US residential IP addresses and servers into their infrastructure. Now these are much more expensive than commercial addresses however they are currently only used when a user tries to connect to Netflix. This means that only when you use Netflix will you get a residential IP address, which minimizes the cost and bandwidth charges significantly.
Try them out here – . for accessing US Netflix for example.
It’s an inexpensive option and currently the only one that works!