If you live in Cyprus you've probably seen adverts to get UK TV channels for a monthly fee without a satellite dish, using the internet. You might think it's all a bit naughty like illegal card sharing - well, it's not! Read on...
One of the things Brits in Cyprus miss is their dose of UK telly - Corrie, Eastenders and all the rest! Until recently the only real option to get up to date fixes of your favorite UK programmes here in Cyprus was to have a huge satellite dish costing thousands - or by sharing a big dish with several homes/apartments, which is a much more economical option.
However, with the advent of all the FREE online catch up TV services in the UK (BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, Sky Player, 4OD etc.) and of course live streaming of many UK channels, the internet has become a cheaper way of getting your UK Telly - assuming you already have a broadband internet service.
The TV broadcasters in the UK are not supposed to provide their services outside of the UK - for many reasons, not least because they only pay programme makers for the right to show the programmes in the UK. What they do is check where in the world you are connecting to the internet and if you are not in the UK, you don't get to watch!
Make it look like your computer is connected to the internet in the UK! It's all very complicated to explain but it can be done by subscribing to a service which, once set up, will make the UK TV websites think you are actually in the UK and let you watch the programmes. They are called "VPN's" or "Proxy servers" It's all very safe and doesn't slow your computer down, bombard you with adverts or anything like that (except of course for the adverts on the telly programmes!!).
VPNs are the better option because Proxy Server services don't always work for all TV services.
Go to one of the shops advertising the service and they will help you set it all up and arrange your monthly subscription to their service. These shops are usually reselling the services of a company in the UK, but the benefit is you get them to set it all up for you and you have a local point of contact if you have any problems. Some of them are actually just charging you for the setup of the service on your computer and then you will be paying your monthly subscription directly to the company in the UK providing the VPN service.
This website is not here to tell you step by step how to do it yourself, but if you fancy giving it a go you could save yourself some money! And you can try it out by just paying for one month for a VPN service - if it doesn't work for you, just cancel before the end of the first month. It's all done through PayPal so you are in control of canceling your subscription - NOT the company providing the service.
There are a number of VPN services around but OVERPLAY.net (US $9.95 - approx £6 - per month) have a very comprehensive website with simple instructions on how to set it up. We would also recommend my-private-network.co.uk (which is one of the cheapest at just GB £5.00 per month).
Another service, called OnSpeed, is mainly designed to speed up slower internet connections by compressing text and graphics on websites before sending them to your computer. The side effect of this is it makes your computer appear to be in the UK. However, because this service is based on what is called a "proxy server" it does not work for all UK TV websites. It is cheaper than a VPN service at GB£24.99 per year.
Because VPN services are actually sending all the video streams you watch through their own computers before they get to yours (that's how they make it look like you are in the UK) occasionally, at peak times, when lots of other people are also using the service you will get breaks and pauses in the service - called "buffering" which you may have seen before when watching videos on the internet, particularly when watching Live TV streams. The solution - wait until the next day and watch it on the catch up service! All things considered, it's not that bad when you are getting it all for just a few quid a month!
Here's a list of some of the online UK TV services you can watch once you've got yourself setup with a VPN account:
Getting your UK TV using a dish pointing at Sky/Freesat (just like in the UK but a much much bigger and more expensive dish) is by far the most convenient. You just plug it into your telly and watch as normal - easy peasy. If you want to watch UK TV on your telly using the internet you'll have to get the right cables to connect your computer to your TV. Which cables you'll need will depend on the connections available on your computer and your TV- pop into a computer shop and you'll probably be able to get the right cables - alternatively, the instruction manual for your computer or the manufacturers website might be able to help you out.
In February 2012 all FTA (free to air) BBC and ITV channels moved from the Astra 2D satellite (used by Sky and Freesat) to the new Astra 1N satellite. This did not affect people watching in the UK and other countries close to the UK but it meant that even with a huge 4m dish in Cyprus the signals are still to weak to be received. This means that the options for watching British TV using the internet have become more popular.