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How to watch ABC iView, News 24 & other Aussie TV services overseas

By danwarne     Filed under: internet, technology, Tech, VPNs, travel tech, personal entertainment, ABC, ABC TV, video, broadband internet, TV, ABC iView, Channel 9 catchup TV, NineMSN Fixplay, Channel 7 catchup TV, Yahoo!Plus 7, SBS catchup TV, Channel 10 catchup TV, Australian TV, catchup TV, hotel entertainment, Witopia, Australian VPN, proxies, geoblocking

Want to watch ABC News 24 online when you're travelling overseas -- or just enjot some of your favourite TV shows using online 'catch-up' channels like the ABC's iView and programmes from the commercial channels?

It's not as easy as you'd hope: the TV networks block their online video channels to Internet users from outside Australia.

Fortunately, there's an easy workaround for these restrictions. It's a clever bit of technology called a 'Virtual Private Network' or VPN, which disguises your location to make it appear that your notebook, tablet or even your smartphone is still in Australia.

Just follow the steps outlined in this article (we've covered how to do it for both Mac and Windows).

In this article...

Also...

What is a VPN, and how does it work?

VPN stands for "virtual private network" and it works by creating an encrypted link between your computer and a server somewhere else. It's somewhat similar to the technology used by banks to secure online banking websites between your browser and the bank's computers.

The technology was originally invented to allow businesspeople to connect in to their company network from remote locations safely, encrypting company info as it was transmitted across the internet so nobody else could tap into the connection and harvest it.

However, VPNs have a wonderful side-effect that can help travellers craving a hit of Australian TV while they are overseas: the location of your computer, when connected to a VPN, is disguised. If you are in the USA and connect to a VPN server in Australia, your computer will appear to be located in Australia.

This defeats the 'geoblocking' that the TV networks' websites use to stop people accessing the videos outside Australia.

The VPN service that Australian Business Traveller journos use is Witopia. It's very affordable, starting from US$40 per year with an unconditional 30 day money back guarantee; has 24 hour live-chat tech support; and you can make your computer appear to be in Sydney, many cities in the US, many cities in the UK and Europe, and several cities in Asia.

That means you can also use Witopia while you're in Australia to watch online video from overseas which is usually available only to viewers in that country, ranging from news and sports to regular catch-up services.

Note: Australian Business Traveller is not affiliated or partnered with Witopia — we're just recommending a service we know to be reliable and easy to set up.

How to watch Australian TV overseas with your Windows laptop

Got a Mac? Skip down to our Mac tutorial.

Step 1: sign up at the Witopia website

Go to the Witopia website and choose a plan. Note, Australian Business Traveller is not affiliated or partnered with Witopia — we're just recommending a service we know to be reliable and easy to set up.

If you are not travelling to Belize, Canada, China, Morocco, Guyana, Italy, Oman or the United Arab Emirates (UAE) you can get away with buying the US$39.99/yr PersonalVPN PPTP service.

However, if you are visiting Belize, Canada, China, Morocco, Guyana, Italy, Oman or the United Arab Emirates (UAE), you need to get a more secure service which is less easily blocked by the governments and ISPs of those countries — the US$59.99/yr personalVPN SSL service.

Note: if you want to be able to watch Australian TV on your iPad or iPhone, you'll have to subscribe to either the plain PPTP service, or the SSL/PPTP combination service for $69.99 a year. This is because the Apple's iOS supports PPTP VPNs automatically, but not SSL VPNs.

Choose the service appropriate to you and proceed with the sign-up. For this tutorial, we selected the US$59.99/yr personalVPN SSL service, as it's the most secure and hardest to block type for use on a PC or Mac. Our instructions below are specific to the SSL account type and will not work for the PPTP one.

Step 2 - Download the Witopia software

You should receive an email in your inbox that looks like this. Click the link we've highlighted in red to go to the Witopia page that activates your service and lets you download the software installer.

This page of instructions should appear. You could follow Witopia's instructions from here on, however we've continued our tutorial below so you don't have to change over to a different set of instructions (also, ours is tailored specifically to the issue of watching Australian TV while you're overseas!)

Click the activation link, and you'll be taken to this page, where you'll be asked to put in the order number and your email address. It's important to put "ORD" in all caps before the number, and your email address in lower case.

If you copy and paste the details from the email Witopia sent you, also make sure there are no spaces before or after the information, as that may cause the login to fail.

For example:

ORD123456789
example@email.com.au

The next screen allows you to activate the service.

On the next screen, click continue to start the process of making the Witopia software. This software has your account details baked into it, so don't share it with anyone else. The benefit of this all-in-one approach is you don't have to do any tricky configuration yourself (which is common with most other VPN providers.)

Once that's done, a link will appear on screen that allows you to download the installer.

Step 3 - install the Witopia software

When the file has finished downloading in your browser, locate the personalVPN_Installer.exe file in your downloads folder, and open it.

If a message like the below appears saying you need the Java runtime environment 1.4.0, download and install Java from this website, then re-run the personalVPN_Installer.exe file.

Follow the installer steps as shown below.

After installation, there is one more important step you have to do manually if you are running Windows 7 or Windows Vista. Right-click on the personalVPN desktop icon and select properties, then click the compatibility tab and tick the box "Run as Administrator". Click OK. This allows the software to run correctly; Windows will otherwise block it.

Step 4 - run the Witopia software and connect to the VPN

You can now run the Witopia app by clicking the personalVPN icon that has been installed on your desktop. A small icon should appear in your taskbar in the lower right-hand corner of the screen with two red squares in it.

To watch Australian TV while you are overseas, you need to connect to an Australian VPN server. Right click on the personalVPN icon and select the "au sydney" menu option, then "connect" from the pop-out menu.

Once you've selected the Australian server, you should notice that the personalVPN icon in the taskbar goes green to indicate that it is connected.

You should now be able to access any of the Australian TV websites to watch full episodes online, and live ABC News 24 streaming video.

See our huge A-Z list of full episode Australian TV shows to watch online and which websites to watch them on.

When you're finished watching TV, you can disconnect from the Sydney VPN server by right-clicking on the personalVPN icon again, selecting "au - sydney" again, then "disconnect" from the pop-out menu.

How to watch Australian TV overseas with your Mac

Got a PC? Skip to our Windows tutorial.

Step 1: sign up at the Witopia website

Go to the Witopia website and choose a plan. Note, Australian Business Traveller is not affiliated or partnered with Witopia — we're just recommending a service we know to be reliable and easy to set up.

If you are not travelling to Belize, Canada, China, Morocco, Guyana, Italy, Oman or the United Arab Emirates (UAE) you can get away with buying the US$39.99/yr PersonalVPN PPTP service.

However, if you are visiting Belize, Canada, China, Morocco, Guyana, Italy, Oman or the United Arab Emirates (UAE), you need to get a more secure service which is less easily blocked by the governments and ISPs of those countries — the US$59.99/yr personalVPN SSL service.

Note: if you want to be able to watch Australian TV on your iPad or iPhone/iPod Touch, you'll have to subscribe to either the plain PPTP service, or the SSL/PPTP combination service for $69.99 a year. This is because the Apple's iOS supports PPTP VPNs automatically, but not SSL VPNs.

Choose the service appropriate to you and proceed with the sign-up. For this tutorial, we selected the US$59.99/yr personalVPN SSL service, as it's the most secure and hardest to block type for use on a PC or Mac. Our instructions below are specific to the SSL account type and will not work for the PPTP one.

Step 2: Download the Witopia software

You should receive an email in your inbox that looks like this. Click the link we've highlighted in red to go to the Witopia page that activates your service and lets you download the software installer.

This page of instructions should appear. If you like, you can follow Witopia's instructions from here on, but we've continued the tutorial below for the sake of completeness.

Click the activation link, and you'll be taken to the below page, where you'll be asked to put in the order number and your email address. It's important to put "ORD" in all caps before the number, and your email address in lower case.

If you copy and paste the details from the email Witopia sent you, also make sure there are no spaces before or after the information, as that may cause the login to fail.

For example:

ORD123456789
dan@ausbt.com.au

The following screen allows you to activate the service.

On the next screen, click continue to start the process of making the Witopia software. This software has your account details baked into it, so don't share it with anyone else. The benefit of this all-in-one approach is you don't have to do any tricky configuration yourself (which is common with most other VPN providers.)

Once that's done, a link will appear on screen that allows you to download the installer.

Step 3 - install the Witopia software

When the file has finished downloading in your browser, locate the PersonalVPN.dmg file in your downloads folder, and open it. Drag the Viscosity.app file over to the app folder shortcut on the right hand side of the window to install it on your Mac.

Step 4 - run the Witopia software and connect to the VPN

Viscosity is the program that connects you to the Witopia VPN. Open your app folder and run Viscosity. It will ask if you want to automatically check for updates (untick the box, as the version you have downloaded from Witopia is the newest one they've tested and approved.)

The Viscosity icon appears in your menu bar as a small globe icon.

To watch Australian TV while you are overseas, you need to connect to an Australian VPN server. Click the globe and select the "connect - au sydney" menu option.

Once you've selected the Australian server, you should notice that the small padlock icon next to it goes orange, then green to indicate that it is connected.

You should now be able to access any of the Australian TV websites to watch full episodes online, and live ABC News 24 streaming video — from anywhere in the world.

Where to find Australian TV shows to watch online

See our full A-Z list of full episodes of Australian TV shows to watch online and which websites to watch them on.

Once you're finished watching TV, you can disconnect the VPN — simply click on the globe icon in the menu bar again, and click the "disconnect au - sydney" item.

There's no need to quit Viscosity — it doesn't do anything while you are disconnected from the VPN, but it's handy to have it available in case you do need to connect while travelling.

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About danwarne

Dan is a tech enthusiast who frequently qualifies for enhanced airport security screening due to the number of cords and gadgets stuffed into his cabin bag.

 

Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 30/5/11 by lesroo

Thanks for your recommendation, but I did not have a good experience with WiTopia. After signing up for their $59.95 program in Sweden, I was able to watch dear 'old Auntie ABC. However, when I travelled onto Amsterdam and then Prague, I was no longer able to connect to their Sydney site. After two days of WiTopia support suggestions (15 emails in total), none was successful and they finally refunded my money. 

Can't suggest WiTopia as a solution for Aussie travellers.

Any other successful suggestions?

1 on 31/5/11 by danwarne

Hmmm... sorry to hear that. Thanks for the on-the-ground feedback. Another VPN service I've used successfully is Ace VPN ($5 a month) -- but it's a little trickier to set up than Witopia.

1 on 8/6/11 by lesroo

Hi Dan,

Just an update on my experiences with Witopia. After my initial sad experience, Witopia support contacted me again a few days later and gave me a 3 day trial account to help set up an alternate method. After attempts again in Vienna, and many hours of Remote assistance over the ensuing week from Witopia, I finally got a successful connection with their 'super' $69.95 plan on arrival home in Oz. I haven't had the chance to test this for Aussie TV reception while overseas, but it does seem to be connecting successfully and will fully test it when I head to the USA in a few weeks time. I must admit their Witopia support team were extremely helpful and I can recommend them if for nothing else than for their professional approach to customer care.

1 on 9/6/11 by danwarne

Thanks for the update, Lesroo. Yes, that was my experience with them too -- good customer support, which is why I was surprised to hear that you hadn't had that (though I know companies ebb and flow in quality...)

Interesting that you're on a $69.95 plan... I can't find any mention of that on their website. I wonder what the difference is...

2 on 27/7/11 by snoz

Hi, I just installed WiTopia but it seems the connection is too slow. Every two seconds there is one second buffering break on the ABC News 24 live stream. What can I do?

1 on 28/7/11 by danwarne

First port of call would be to get in touch with Witopia support. It might also be the internet connection you're on at the hotel though - can you stream video from other sites ok?

1 on 28/7/11 by snoz

iview and other pages also takes ages I'll next contact Witopia support. I also ran speedtest.net: up 0.9 Mbps down 0.34 Mbps Ping 352 ms I live in Germany and my internet connection is fast: without Witopia: up 1.87 Mbps down 29.30 Mbps Ping 18 ms

3 on 28/7/11 by Pat B

I have been trying for over a week to set this up in the USA so I can access the Sydney server and ABC while out of the country. In spite of numerous emails from very responsive tech help it still doesn't work. Streaming OuTube etc is fine, but the ABS constantly stops and starts and is unwatchable. Tech help would be improved if each respondent read the previous emails. Theybhave been trying hard, but no success yet. The saga isn't quite over yet, but maybe you could suggest something else?

1 on 28/7/11 by danwarne

Unfortunately not.. I'm just a customer like you. I did connect to the Sydney VPN server today and tested both ABC iView and ABC News 24 and they played back smoothly. However, obviously, because I'm in Australia, international delays are not present.

I also ran a speedtest.net test on the connection and got 5Mbit/s down which is pretty good. What speed do you get when connected to the Sydney VPN server, and when not connected to any VPN server (e.g. just the basic internet connection provided by the hotel?)

1 on 28/7/11 by Pat B

Hi Dan - I use the same speed tester and got a measly  .19 Mbps when connected to the VPN server and a respectable 16.52Mbps when connected directly through my ISP. Witopia's help people have said a couple of times that these speed tests are not appropriate for a VPN, but have not explained why. I am sure the VERY slow speed explains the choppy video.

1 on 29/7/11 by danwarne

That's bizarre!! Wow, that's really bad.

I happen to have two internet connections at home, Optus Cable and iiNet ADSL.

I just re-ran the speed test on the Australian Witopia server and got 2Mbit/s through Optus and 3.8Mbit/s through iiNet -- so it looks like the ISP plays a part somehow (perhaps iiNet peers directly with the data centre Witopia runs its server from, and Optus doesn't.)

I can't imagine why you'd be getting such poor performance through your ISP.

Depending on how techy you are, you might like tuning your TCP/IP settings to use a much larger TCP Receive Window than the standard setting in your operating system.

Essentially, a receive window is the amount of data your computer will receive before sending back an acknowledgement to the other end.

When there is long distances involved in network connections, there can be larger than normal delays in the receipt of acknowledgement packets -- and no more data will be sent until the ACK packet has been received.

A larger receive window will allow the computer to receive commensurately larger chunks of data before an ACK packet has to be sent.

If you tell me what operating system (e.g. Windows XP, Mac OS X 10.6 etc) you're running I could point you in the right direction to some specific instructions.

1 on 29/7/11 by Pat B

I am using Windows 7 but have also been trying to acess it with my IPad. Had a long online chat with Witopia support last night and it seemed to be solved by changing the DNS. Everything worked fine for about an hour and then it was back to constantly stopping again. Weird. Have you heard of anyone getting better results with the $69.99 pro package?

1 on 1/8/11 by danwarne

Ahhh... yes, DNS can make a BIG difference because it will determine where you are accessing the file from. I wrote a bit about this here:

http://apcmag.com/why-using-google-dns-opendns-is-a-bad-idea.htm

(I don't know if you were using OpenDNS or Google DNS but the principles about the location of the DNS server are the same.)

2 on 9/8/11 by Pat B

Hi Dan - I am operating Windows 7. I have upgraded my Witopia, tried various DNS addresses,tried a proxy server, but nothing seems to fix the problems I am having with Sydney. I can connect to London with no problems, but Sydney?????? Yuk. Just constant stopping. Maybe the TCP?IP setting change could help, but I would need some guidance there. Thanks

Pat

1 on 11/8/11 by jamm76

i tried the witopia and but it did not work properly on my computer, when i spoke with witopia support and after several attempt to help me solve it, they refunded my money and advised me to use RDP...i have searched where i could get RDP service that offer AU ip but no luck...do you know where i can get this from?

4 on 7/3/12 by Mooball

Thanks for this info

Howver despite telling us (intimating at least) that we can watch /access Au tv on iPad there is no direction regarding this.. ie downloading to ipad and so forth.

I would be glad of more here

thanks

mooball au

5 on 6/6/12 by klektik

Another less than perfect experience with Witopia to report.

I'd signed up over 12 months ago, on their personal plan. It worked, but it was painfully slow. Even when using servers in the same city.

I had to upgrade my plan a few months later to get through a network I was using, which was fine, as I planned to go to China and thought that it would be neccesary in any case.

But, Witopia DOES NOT WORK AS ADVERTISED IN CHINA!

Don't be fooled by their website that shows the PRO pack to be only limited in Syria. There ARE serious limitations. 

Witopia has had all their servers blocked in China and only offer 3 secret servers if you email them. 

Again, the performance is less than satisfctory.

I had to buy another VPN account with VPNExpress to even access the Witopia FAQ from China to find out what was wrong. Not surprisingly there is ABSOLUTELY  NO MENTION on their site of any issue connecting in China using their PRO account.

My advice, sign up for VPNExpress. Yes it is slightly more expensive, but at least it works as advertised (and is significantly faster so far)

Fail Witopia.

6 on 9/8/12 by Witopied

My system is Win XP Pro SP3 and Witopia just does not work as advertised, read NO SSL/OpenVPN. Very nice web site but it is mostly BS particularly the quote “All customers enjoy live support 365 days a year and we serve it up however you want “. Spent the last week, near on 8 hours a day and sent a gazillion emails to their “tech support” = “two guys in a hut somewhere in the Pacific” and all I got back, very slowly, and very unhelpfully was a list of accusations. (1) It was my fault as I must have clicked on something, (2) it was my “machines” fault, (3) it was my security software’s fault, (4) it was my OS’s fault, (5) if SSL/Open VPN did not work I should be happy that PPTP and IPSec did, (6) I should downgrade to an older version of their software and see if that works …….at the same price of course, (7) while they tell you to check out the wiki the tech guys (joke) tell you that the wiki is actually old rubbish that does not relate to the latest version, (8) they tell me that I should format my PC HD and then reinstall my OS and see if Witopia works?

 Do not go near this rubbish if you are using Win XP Pro SP3 and even if you are using a different OS I can guarantee you, based upon a week of hair pulling experience, that the “tech support” you will get will be absolutely useless and only leave you feeling as frustrated as I am right now.

 Two tin cans and a long piece of string are a better alternative to WiTopia.

After much searching, pondering and trepidation I tried Hide My Ass VPN Pro (HMA) and it worked perfectly ... so it was not my "machine" or anything else all the time just Witopia and their totally useless tech support.

You might read about the debate related to HMA Logging or not but I am not too concerned about that. It works. 

 

7 on 11/7/13 by Peter

Hi I live in Bali and would like to try subscribing to WiTopia to get a VPN to watch Australian TV but the internet speed is not that great here, I get a download speed of around 1.8-2 MBPS and an upload of around .93 MBPS  will it be constantly buffering

8 on 12/11/14 by willieaames

In order to watch iView outside of Australia, you have two options. The first is to subscribe to one of the DNS servers which get you fast streaming from a server located in Australia. The second is to sign up to a VPN service which promises you the same degree of access like the first option, but with a higher security and privacy for your device.

9 on 13/11/14 by lesroo

HI Dan,

Thanks again for the update to VPN, but I have to report that the solution is still not as simple as outlined recently. I've just returned (again - Oct 2014) from the USA and (again) attempted to use Witopia (and other VPN's) while in the US to watch Aussie TV. Still  no luck. Foxtel block any suspect servers (including Witopia's Aussie servers in Sydney and Melbourne) so I was (again) unable to watch any decent TV while in the US. The other VPN's I tried had a similar problem. Fortunately, Witopia (again) were professional in their service and did refund the full amount of my subscription. Of course any VPN is only as good as the WiFi speeds available, and I attempted connection at various venues with widely ranging WiFi speeds without any success.

 

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