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New Zealand ISP allows its customers to subscribe to the U.S. version of Netflix

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Slingshot, a local internet provider in New Zealand, wants to give its subscribers a little extra perk: The ISP just added a new “global mode” to its internet plans that allows its customers to access video services like Netflix (S NFLX) or Hulu without getting in trouble for coming from the wrong country (hat tip to Broadband Reports).

Slingshot’s global mode is essentially a VPN, meaning that it reroutes any traffic through servers situated in other countries. Slingshot subscribers using global mode may look like they’re located in New York as opposed to Auckland.

Netflix and other media services tend to block visitors from markets they’re not operating in due to licensing restrictions, and Netflix in particular serves up different content even in its active markets, giving users in Canada access to other titles than users in the U.K. Internet users from outside of the United States have for some time circumvented these kinds of restrictions through paid VPN services, but this may be the first time that an internet provider is offering this kind of circumvention as part of its regular service.

Anyone using this type of VPN likely violates the terms of of service of a streaming site, which is why Slingshot coyly suggests that the service is just for customers who happen to house international visitors:

“We don’t want your guests being treated like second-class citizens just because they are staying in New Zealand. Instead, we want them to have the same rich online experiences as they do in their own country. Global Mode lets them access their favourite international sites and services from your home broadband connection.”

7 Responses to “New Zealand ISP allows its customers to subscribe to the U.S. version of Netflix”

  1. timekeeper

    But Netflix does not have the right to stream that content into NZ. What are they doing to protect the rights of the content providers? Seems like a huge issue for Netflix if a provider made an issue of it.

  2. Ganesh

    VPN technology going ‘consumer mainstream’ for this purpose only serves to highlight the fact that regional licensing restrictions / geo-fencing aspects don’t really have a place in the modern Internet age.

  3. Nigel Walker

    Isn’t New Zealand full on people that want to marry sheep or something? I am surprised to hear they finally got the internet.

  4. The news here is that Slingshot is making this option ON by default, while until now it was available but OFF.

    The “Global Mode” service itself has been available since June 2013. Before that a small ISP “fyx” offered a similar service from around May 2012, stopping only when Australian Vocus bought them.

  5. I feel like this only solves half of the problem in NZ – though it’s a good business move for Slingshot.

    From my understanding (my sister who lived there is my source), the majority of ISP’s broadband plans have data caps rather than paying one monthly fee for all the internet you can use. So obviously anyone who wants to stream Netflix will need to buy Slingshot’s most expensive unlimited data plan.

    • All New Zealand ISPs now offer uncapped plans in addition to capped plans. The price difference is actually not that big.

      New Zealand has very good network infrastructure, with 80% of population able to reach at least 10 Mbps xDSL speeds thanks to a extensive cabinetisation project.

      Independent reports based on probes connected directly to consumer CPEs ( show average VDSL speeds around 20 Mbps, cable speeds available in two flavours (50 Mbps and 130 Mbps) and fibre available in 50, 100 and 200 Mbps.

      The main problem with New Zealand broadband is that a large chunk of content consumed in this country comes from overseas, despite some local CDN nodes. It’s impossible to break the laws of physics, and a packet still takes 20ms (receiving and ack) when moved from LAX to AKL – and some have to travel further.

      The best thing done here was the cabinesation project, which allowed fibre to the cabinets and then shorter local copper loops. In addition to this the fibre project is covering the country with fibre available to consumers.

      Remember this is a country of four million people in an area the size of the UK. The scale here is not the same as anywhere else, and half of the population lives in Auckland, making it hard to deploy in rural areas – hence the Rural Broadband Initiative which uses fixed 4G technologies where xDSL and fibre is not available.

      4G LTE in New Zealand reaches up to 140 Mbps speeds, which is pretty much the top of speeds comparing with countries from around the world.

      The extra cost to get uncapped broadband is minimum compared to the quality of the network.