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New Zealand ISP wants to help users skirt online content's regional restrictions

New Zealand ISP wants to help users skirt online content's regional restrictions


A New Zealand ISP named Fyx is offering something it calls "global mode," which allegedly allows New Zealand residents to access video streaming sites like Netflix even if they are blocked in their own country.

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Online streaming video services like Netflix and Hulu are making their way across the world, but they're definitely taking their time. A new ISP in New Zealand, going by the name Fyx, may be trying to hurry things along by letting customers access online content not normally available in their country. On its surface, Fyx offers a pricing plan that seems designed for those that want to access large amounts of data: a NZ$34.34 monthly flat fee, with an additional NZ$0.34 per gigabyte of data. Where things get interesting is the ISP's so-called "global mode," which it says "will enable residential users to access larger, global content." The company doesn't get much more specific than that, but according to Paul Brislen, head of the Telecomunications Users Association of New Zealand, the service allows customers to access streaming video sites like Netflix that would otherwise block access due to regional limitations — all without active user intervention.

Just how well the service works — or whether it's legal — seems to be very much in question. Breslin himself admits he's not quite sure, but states that the company's lack of specificity about its global mode is one way in which Fyx hopes to insulate itself legally. Of course, it's already possible to perform this kind of location spoofing with VPNs and other methods, though in a recent tweet Fyx claimed its own service was more complex than that type of solution. Fyx also doesn't address the issue of international payment; many subscription services require a credit card with a local address to gain access to their content. Still, the ISP will no doubt pique the interest of users as well as content companies. In fact, it already seems to be on Netflix's radar, with a company spokesperson telling Ars Technica that "you may instantly watch a movie or TV show through the Netflix service only in geographic locations where we offer our service. The content that may be available to watch will vary by geographic location. Netflix will use technologies to verify your geographic location."

Update: Fyx says it is now withdrawing its global mode service "for now." Citing "matters that require further consideration," the company says it's putting it on hold, but existing and new customers will pay a new, lesser price of $30.30 per month, with $0.30 per GB for data.