'This Is To Watch Netflix': NZ ISP Opens Up About Its In-House VPN

Slingshot, New Zealand's third largest ISP, has been operating its own VPN service for a year. Called Global Mode, it protects network traffic to and from Slingshot customers and lets them access otherwise geoblocked international sites. Now the carrier has come out and clearly stated that the service is explicitly for its customers to easily access Netflix and other blocked sites.

In an interview with The New Zealand Herald, Slingshot general manager Taryn Hamilton was upfront about the use and purpose of the telco's Global Mode service: "No beating around the bush. This is to watch Netflix, this is to watch BBC iPlayer, this is to watch Hulu, this is to watch Amazon Prime."

Hamilton said that users actually signing up for Netflix or Amazon Prime or Hulu — a process which requires a valid US billing address — was up to them, and that Slingshot was effectively only providing unrestricted access to those sites. "This is just enabling people to consume those services if they want to. Kiwis deserve to watch the same stuff that guys in the States do and at the same price."

Signing up with a false address is a breach of those services' terms and conditions, but it's not a breach that can be easily checked or enforced; it also doesn't stop the up to 200,000 Australians (according to estimates in Variety) who currently access Netflix through various VPN services like UnoTelly, UnblockUS and HideMyAss.

Slingshot's comments show how strongly the ISP is invested in providing unfettered worldwide 'net access, and how frustrating geoblocking and geo-restricting content can be for end users. This kind of transparency and openness is rare from an ISP, the likes of which in Australia usually stay quiet about what their users are doing with their Internet connections. Of Australia's ISPs, iiNet is the most vocal about the topic, with chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby recently putting it quite bluntly: "Using a proxy service is child’s play, literally.

"VPN services are, once again, child’s play to use, just by installing the software and clicking a button to mask location and hide activities from prying eyes. The only way the government could stop this traffic would be to block all encrypted traffic, a Herculean task that even the most determined dictatorships struggle to enforce." [NZ Herald]


Comments

    I prefer the DNS method used by Getflix and UnBlockUS personally but the intent is great to hear about.

      Slingshot appears to use DNS poisoning as well, just like those services. There is no VPN client or configuration needed, simply a setting on your account and advice to clear your DNS cache (and a message to ensure you're using Slingshot's DNS servers).

    Yeah, Telstra is going to jeopardise its investment in foxtel making it easier to watch Netflix...........

    While i am here, and sort of on-topic, if i use unblock.us as a VPN, does that cover up my torrenting so our beloved AG cant see it?

      No, as I understand unblock-us, it's just a reverse proxy. It's not a VPN at all. It will only work with sites that unblock-us has configured their DNS to work with.

      No, it won't cover you.
      In their own words: "With our new Smart VPN you can enjoy all the services that Unblock-Us supports just via VPN. It works exactly like our regular Unblock-Us service which, means most of your traffic goes directly and we will not slow you down."
      In other words, only the initial request goes through their VPN. The rest of your traffic won't be affected. This is quite pointless for torrenting.

      If you want to hide your torrents, either:
      -use a fully-fledged VPN, or
      -use a proxy & set encryption to "forced" (settings will differ between clients)
      The former provides better protection, but the latter won't affect other programs.

      No, use a decent VPN for less money instead.

      Private Internet Access ($40 yearly), proxy.sh ($40 basic plan yearly), earthvpn ($40 yearly), boxpn (36 euros yearly), and Kepard ($35 yearly) all cost less than unblock-us ($60 a year) and all have specific "allows torrents" gateways.

        The reason that the DNS services are popular has to do with ubiquity and ease of use.

        If you have a windows pc, an ipad, an android smart phone, a samsung tv, and an xbox or xbone, just to throw the darts at the largest purchase categories, they all require different hoops to jump through.

        They will selectively:
        - Work or not work with netflix and amazon prime.
        - Support a VPN app that works with your VPN of choice.
        - Support socks5 proxying via a vps, at all -- most requiring root and heavy modifications if a proof of concept even exists.
        - Support proxying via an existing proxy server, at all.

        DNS solves everything except the first problem. It may be child's play but it's retardedly fiddly to solve for every device that every family member owns.

    Damnitt New Zealand. First you guys commit to an all FTTP network (and stick to it, unlike us), then this! Stop being smarter than us Aussies! We're supposed to have an irrational and unwarranted sense of superiority to you! It makes us uncomfortable when we're proven wrong.

      yes we need to steal these ideas and claim them as our own. For that is the Australian Way

        Unless they turn out a bit shite, then we write them off as being kiwi stuff/ideas/actors.

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