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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

New service opens doors to restricted sites

ViewQwest users can access popular location-restricted sites via its Virtual Private Network service for $10 a month
The Straits Times - May 2, 2012
By: Oo Gin Lee
| More
New service opens doors to restricted sites The Freedom VPN service from Viewqwest lets you access location-restricted Internet content services around the world. -- PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Frustrated at being locked out of Netflix, Hulu Plus, Spotify, Pandora, Apple TV and other Internet content services because you are outside their permitted geographical limits?

The solution could be a new $10-a-month Virtual Private Network (VPN) service that fibre broadband provider ViewQwest (www.viewqwest.com) launches today.

Using the VPN service, a fibre-ready user routes his Internet traffic to a proxy site provided by the service provider, before accessing the Internet.

If the proxy site is in the United States, then the content sites view the user as being in the US (since his IP address is now seen as American) and lets him in, even if he happens to be sitting in front of his PC in his Bukit Merah flat.

This immediately opens up ad-driven video sites such as Hulu Plus and Crackle that would all have been 'IP-blocked' before.

Subscription and pay-to-view services, including Netflix, Xbox Video Marketplace and Apple TV, still require payment modes such as PayPal, prepaid cards or credit cards issued in the US - all of which can be arranged, if you know how.

ViewQwest's Freedom VPN service is available for an additional $10 per month to subscribers. It is also launching a triple-play bundled service today. This comes with a 100Mbps fibre line, unlimited local calls and Internet TV for $65 a month. The bundle comes with a Western Digital TV Live media box which lets you view Internet content on your TV.

VPN services are not new but have been largely off-limits to those who are not so tech savvy.

Users need to buy a VPN-ready router over the Internet, sign up for a VPN account with StrongVPN, SuperVPN or other service providers, then access the VPN router's configuration to add the VPN details. It is also possible, but really for geeks only, to buy standard routers over the counter and 'flash' them to make them VPN-ready.

ViewQwest takes the tough out of the equation by building the VPN smarts into the fibre broadband router-cum-modem that comes with the broadband line. You can use the first wired port for your regular Internet services and the second wired port for your VPN services.

The device also comes with two separate Wi-Fi networks, so you can connect your phones, tablets and laptops to a regular or VPN line, or switch between them. Note also that ViewQwest blocks all BitTorrent traffic on its VPN line but not on its regular line.

Another cool feature of Freedom VPN is that you get a US and a UK VPN account.

All of this is transparent to the user. It means that you can access US-only sites such as Netflix, as well as UK-only sites such as BBC iPlayer, when you connect your PC or media box to the VPN port.

ViewQwest is one of the two new residential broadband service providers which launched this year. It has been providing corporate broadband and other IT services in the past but avoided the fibre broadband price war. Instead, it focused on giving more value to its customers. It charges $59.95 for a 100Mbps broadband line-only plan while StarHub, SingTel and M1 slashed their prices to about $45 during the IT Show tech fair.

ViewQuest chief executive officer Vignesa Moorthy said: 'We also don't give out free laptops and then make consumers pay more every month. We take the money and put it into better services for the customers.'

He may be the new kid on the block but he is definitely not pulling any punches. He said: 'We are confident that we are providing the fastest residential fibre broadband service in Singapore.'

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