Commercial Versus Residential IP Address

You’d think there wasn’t much difference in that little number that is assigned to your internet connection but unfortunately that’s not the case.  Many of us already know the importance of our IP address and how it effects virtually everything we do online.

The reality is that your IP address does affect your online experience although to what extent largely depends on your physical location.  For example Chinese surfers already realise that their internet connections are heavily filtered and censored and many have found methods around the ‘great firewall of China’.   For those who live in Western democracies the restrictions are less obvious but they do exist.

Residential IP Address

A very simple example, ever since the BBC started broadcasting most of their channels online live, I’ve been in the habit of watching the BBC News on my laptop.   It means I’m not tied to a TV set and potentially I can watch it from wherever I am.  Except this isn’t the case because if you try and watch any of the BBC’s channels online from outside the UK it won’t work.   It detects your Non-UK IP address and redirects you to an International version of the site which doesn’t allow access to any of the live programmes or BBC iPlayer.

The Essential Residential IP Address

The solution is relatively straight forward though simply use a VPN or proxy to hide  your real location. All you need to do is to redirect through a server based in the UK and you’ll effectively have a British IP address.   So that’s it – it was so simple, but unfortunately the game has now changed again.

You see not only does your IP address have a ‘nationality’ assigned to it, there’s a further classification.   That is –  residential or commercial,  every IP address including those assigned to VPN services is grouped into one of those two categories.  Now the residential classification is assigned to home addresses which you usually get from your ISP whilst web sites and services usually have commercial classification.   Until recently this didn’t matter yet now it’s become very important whether you’re using a residential VPN like this for example.

Because all these global media services don’t like people using VPNs and stuff to bypass all their blocks they’ve decided to take another step.  Instead of just restricting based on location, companies like Netflix are now blocking all commercial IP addresses as well.  This means not only will you not be allowed access from something like a corporate network, but also if you use a VPN or Smart DNS Service you’ll find them blocked too.   Netflix have decided that it’s almost impossible to individually identify specific VPN addresses and blacklist them (which is true) so have just blocked the whole classification of commercial addresses.

There’s no doubt that this new tactic has been extremely effective, hundreds of thousands of Netflix viewers were locked out instantly if they were connected through a VPN.  This is because nearly every VPN service ran from a datacentre which contained servers all assigned commercial IP addresses. This means that they are all classed as commercial connections and now don’t work at all with Netflix.   It’s too early to see whether other companies will follow suit but consider the success it wouldn’t be a surprise.   The market for private residential proxies is certainly growing too with many websites locking the door on access from commercial addresses, this is likely to continue.

Fortunately some of the services have been fighting back and if you know where to look there is an increasing number of residential VPN services available which run on servers assigned residential classified IP addresses. The basic VPNs can offer some addresses however if you need any number then there are only a couple of places where you can buy residential IPs from.

One of the oldest and most respected suppliers (indeed many of the VPN services buy their residential ip proxy servers from this company as well) is called Storm Proxies.

Click to Visit Storm Proxies

What Exactly is Smart DNS

When it comes to bypassing country based restrictions and the annoying media blocks used by the world’s biggest online companies – it used to be a choice between proxies and VPNs.   Basically these were servers that sat between you and the web site you wanted to visit which could hide your real location.

The way it worked was that if you wanted to watch for example the UK only BBC iPlayer from the US, then you’d need to route your connection through an intermediate server based in the UK.  That way you IP address would appear to be based in the UK, and the BBC would work.  It was the same for thousands of other sites ranging from Hulu, Pandora to ABC and NBC, however you had to change  the location of the server in the middle to match the content you wanted to watch.

Over the years, proxies have basically stopped working for most of these sites as they are too easily detected.  The only major media site that doesn’t block proxies is now probably the BBC who don’t seem that worried about restricting access to their UK only web site.  Most others like Hulu and Netflix will detect and block access if you use a simple proxy server, only an encrypted VPN will suffice.

A VPN will still work today and as long as it is configured correctly should allow you access to any site you wish.  The problem is that it routes all your connection even when you don’t need to be rerouted, meaning that there’s lots of disconnecting and reconnecting going on.  There is also a performance hit due to location and the encryption layer which is required.

So here we have a new alternative – Smart DNS (read this) which works in a slightly different way.  Your traffic is still rerouted through another server but only the traffic located for identifying your location.  Which means that all your other traffic is unaffected – watch this video for a demonstration.

The advantage is obvious, the impact on your network connection is negligible as only a small part of the network stream is redirected. This is particularly useful for rerouting high quality video over slower network connections. It can also be used to switch locales easier – like this switch American DNS for Netflix. This means that you can use you single Netflix account to access the different variants all over the world, and potentially thousands more shows and movies for the same cost.