Updated – Tuesday March 11, 2014
I’ve always had fond memories of Canada. As a child I used to spend my summers in Parry Sound, Ontario where I went to summer camp. Canadians are wonderful people, expect they put mayonnaise on French fries which is disgusting, and some guy named Tim Horton owns all the restaurants there.
But I am not here today to talk about Canadians, instead I am addressing British expatriates who want to watch the BBC and want to use the BBC iPlayer from Canada. In this post I’m going to explain how to do exactly that with a piece of software called ExpressVPN (yes I know the name is silly but I assure you this software works). You do not have to use the same software I use. You could also accomplish the same thing with BufferedVPN or IPVanish but for the purposes of this tutorial I’m going to show you how I use ExpressVPN.
ExpressVPN has software for Windows, iPads and iPhones, Linux, and Macs. For Android, you have to configure it manually (At the time this article was written, they were working on an Android version, so look on Google Play to see if they have it now.). It will even work on certain wireless Wi-Fi routers, but if you have enough technical experience to configure that then you do not need to read this how-to article. The installation is straight forward, so we will not explain it here.
ExpressVPN is normally fast but in case you experience a slow connection, don’t worry! Here are some troubleshooting tips for that.
When connecting to servers in the UK, I have seen speeds from 1 to 6 mbps. You need 5 mbps to stream Netflix HD, 7 mbps for Super HD, and 12 mbps for Netflix 3D. The same would be true for the BBC.
As you can see, the above numbers are more than good enough to get Netflix streaming — good stuff!
If you are still experiencing some slow speeds, then try different protocols and servers. In other word’s on the dashboard screen pick either pptp or OpenVPN and different servers. On my PC (Windows 8.1), pptp is not working at all, suggesting something is wrong with the network adapter for that.
How to Check your Speed
Now let’s see how we are doing with speed. To do a speed test, you should first check your speed using SpeedTest.net without VPN, then try it when connected to VPN. Here we will try several servers in the UK. We will only user the OpenVPN protocol; protocol is not going to matter much, if at all, with regards to speed. Keep in mind that speed is highly variable and depends on:
• Distance from server
• How many people are using that server
• Issues with your device or your internet service provider
• Internet congestion at any one point
• Problems with their server
You can also use whatsmyip.com and press More Info about You to verify that you are indeed connected to the UK—it will show a map where it thinks you are located. Press (-deny-) if the web site asks for your location, as that will defeat what we are trying to verify. (When you do that, it uses the serial number of your router to exactly determine where you are located. Google Street View has vacuumed up all that data, without asking up anyone’s permission.)
Finally, you need to use a new window in your browser as speed test will not update your location without doing that; it other words it will think that you are still connecting to the same server as before. The observant reader will observe that does not matter. This is true. It just means SpeedTest will not be able to determine your new location and will pick the wrong server to do the test, but that does not matter over short distance (such as across the entire expanse of Britain, before their empire fell). Note that we are only interested in the download speed, as you are not uploading but a tiny bit of information when you are watching steaming video.
Clear auto-path is obviously the best choice, as that lets HMA determine itself which server is running fastest and connect to that.
The Company and their Offering
What else can we say about ExpressVPN? Their prices are relatively cheap, especially if you end up signing up for a 12 month subscription in advanced, in which case you’re only paying around $6 per month. What makes this company stand out from the others is their customer service and that they are constantly updating the service, so it’s getting better and better literally every day.
This should give your enough information to get going with ExpressVPN and troubleshoot issues with speed. Have fun watching the BBC. Americans think it is high-browed entertainment; we all love Maggie Smith and Judith Dench, except for low-brow philistines, of which our country is filled.
You do not have to use ExpressVPN. I can also recommend BufferedVPN and IPVanish which will also work just fine for watching BBC iPlayer from Canada. The same method can be used to watch BBC iPlayer from the US.