Are you aware that we are running out of IP addresses very quickly? Well it’s true, the escalating numbers of websites, servers and just about anything online that needs an IP address is putting a lot of strain on the available addresses. There are estimates suggesting that there only 14% of addresses are left. Fear not though, the introduction of IPV6 should solve our IP address problems. We are all defined to some extent by our IP address, what we can see, what we can do and even to what extent out governments monitor us online.
Your IP address first of all is tied to your location, so if you’re surfing from the UK, you’ll have a UK address. Surf from Hamburg for example and you’ll be connecting through a German IP address and so on. This is important as a large part of your online experience is controlled by this fact. Let’s take something like the BBC Iplayer for instance, a wonderful media site run by the BBC but unfortunately only available to those surfing from a UK IP address. Hulu is another example, with lots of great programs online it is very attractive site to visit yet if don’t have a US IP address forget it.
In fact just about every decent media site on the internet restricts access to their specific countries. It’s also used to for an economic device called price discrimination, where companies charge different prices for the same product to maximise profits. You’ll see this in work with someone like Napster who charges different prices to it’s customer depending on where they are. They work this out simply based on your IP address and it’s called geotargeting.
Here is where the proxies come in, these are servers which relay information between you and the website you’re visiting. So when you visit a web site it sees the proxy server address and not yours. Usually this is used for privacy issues but it does have an added benefit if you want to watch content online that is blocked to your current IP address. That is why I use a UK proxy when I’m outside Britain so I can watch things like the BBC and ITV. A German living in America would need to use a german proxies to access media sites in his homeland.
The market for these proxies are growing, some people search around for free ones but it is a time consuming job and ultimately a frustrating one. 99% of the free servers are so overloaded that they fall over very quickly and it’s normally impossible to stream any video content over these servers. They can be located it just takes a huge amount of time to find them.
If you look for a provider make sure you aren’t charged by country, the best proxy providers charge a single fee for access to a range of servers. This can be very useful if you want to get access to all the content the internet has to offer.