Ghost in the machine

By Paul Simpkins

Like any normal UK male I like to watch sport on TV. As the season all over Europe comes to a conclusion the titles and cups are being decided. Exactly the wrong time to take a holiday. Why?

Because despite Sky Go and BT allowing you to watch their products on your laptop or other device while you’re away from home things stop working when you leave the UK. It’s nothing to do with Brexit. Your device works out that you’ve left and suddenly many services that you use frequently start to deny you access for the simple reason that you’re away from home. If you want to watch the destination of the titles and cups you have to hope that you can find a friendly bar with a TV and hope the locals aren’t supporting the team that is playing your team.  You may have to consume alcohol and even sing sporting anthems badly but that’s part of the fun.

If you prefer to sit in the safety of your hotel room or rural gite or caravan there is another solution. Buy a wifi session. Your venue will probably sell you one for a few euros and you can watch in peace with a steaming cappuccino. Trouble is your device may still not allow you to connect to UK channels as it will still think you’re away from home as your IP address identifies your location.

But there’s a solution for that as well. Buy an app that masks your IP address. I’ve used this one.

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And it’s worked well. For free it will tell your computer sitting in Bordeaux that it’s really in Manchester so it will be able to watch iPlayer, Sky & BT without a problem. Yabba dabba doo!

Until recently when I purchased a month’s wifi from the site where I am currently staying. The company concerned is called Ozmosis.

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It’s full of lovely pictures of people enjoying themselves on holiday (the sunglasses give it away) using their wifi on holiday parks throughout Europe. 8 million users no less. So I bought a month’s wifi from them.

When it came to Champions league semi finals I thought I’d watch. It took a while. You have to run Cyberghost and find out that only 2000 free places exist and they count down at about ten a second until wow you’re sorted and watch the IP address emigrating from south west France to Manchester via a slow moving graphic then eventually log on to BT sport. Even then it often doesn’t work.

No problem. It was worth the effort. Until the following morning when you try to log on to the internet as usual. It doesn’t work. Suddenly it dawns on you via series of messages from Ozmosis they’ve identified a streaming service on your computer which violates their terms and conditions and they have terminated your wifi (after 6 of 31 days).

You ring the help line and you have to admit that you’ve been a naughty boy using an IP masking routine; apologise, delete it from your machine and they restore your wifi.

But then you think…

Who are they to say what I can do with their product? I buy it. It connects me to the internet. Can I watch porn channels with it? Can I hack health services all over Europe with it?  If I buy product A that enables me to do many things can the provider of Product A stop  me from doing B, C and D, E and F with their enabling product? 

If I bought a Kindle and loaded it with racist literature could Amazon stop me reading it?

If I bought a car and was told by the salesman that I couldn’t drive to Chipping Sodbury because they didn’t like the name.

If I bought a mobile phone but was limited in the numbers I could call?

(other off the wall examples sought by the author)

So there you are. I can buy wifi and perform normal functions like check my email or look at my bank account or whatsapp my auntie but not watch Atletico Madrid fail to beat Real Madrid without being penalised by a faceless sysadmin near Montpellier who cuts off a service I’ve paid for because I’m doing something they don’t like.  I have no other option on my campsite. Ozmosis have a monopoly.

OK millions of people streaming a major football match might use a lot of bandwidth but that’s what most European males on a campsite want to do. Saying in the T & C that you can’t do it makes buying the wifi worthless. Increase your capability Ozmosis or get out of the sector (

but they’re making zillions of euros so they won’t do that).

I expect a torrent of abuse from normal people who live without watching big sporting events but living in France for several weeks eating quality food and drinking cheap quality wine and beer while enjoying temperatures 10 degrees higher than the UK needs some mitigation otherwise it would be Paradise Lost – buts that’s another story.

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