Are you one of the millions of Americans infuriated that NBC is preventing you from watching the Olympics as they happen?
We are, too.
Most of the fun of watching live sports events is the suspense of not knowing who won — and NBC’s habit of tape-delaying daytime events is ruining the Olympics for us and millions of other sports fans.
But here’s some good news. NBC owns the rights to broadcast the Olympics in the U.S., but it does not own the right to prevent you from watching the Olympics live (though it’s trying its best to make sure that you don’t).
Those who have the good fortune to be in other countries during these two exciting weeks can watch all the Olympics live anytime they want, just by turning on their TVs or going online (lucky them!). And if you’re willing to do a bit of technical work, you can do the same.
Sites like this Canadian one stream video of the Olympics live. Unfortunately, you can’t just go to these sites and watch using your local US Internet connection, because NBC’s friends have blocked access from US ISPs. What you can do, however, is access the Canadian site from a Canadian ISP, using a virtual private network.
What is a Virtual Private Network? In this case, it is a virtual connection that routes your entire Internet session through a server somewhere else in the world–allowing you to watch, say, Canadian Olympics broadcasts that are available to people in Canada. And it’s perfect for watching the Olympics live, when NBC is refusing to show them to you.
Setting up a VPN requires some technical work, and you might have to pay a modest amount for it. But if you’re a frustrated sports fan, it’s a great way to take matters into your own hands.
The first question you need to ask is why do you need to route your Internet connection through another country?
Is this a short-term deal (in the case of watching the Olympics) or will you be using your connection constantly (a la Spotify)?
Also: is your Internet connection adequate enough to handle video? If not, this solution won't help you watch the Olympics.
There are many Virtual Private Network providers out there - some free and some you'll have to pay for.
If you want a long-term connection, do yourself a favour and just plunk down the money for a legit provider. Otherwise, you may find that your Internet traffic is being routed through a 15-year-old German hacker's desktop.
Personally, we like StrongVPN.com. For $55 a year, you get a UK/USA special that allows you to route your Internet connection through New York, San Francisco, and London, among a few other nearby towns. They also offer other deals.
One thing to make sure of if you're doing this to watch the Olympics: You will need to pick a provider that lets you route your connection through a Canadian server. StrongVPN offers a multiple country server that includes Canadian access for $15 a month. Click here for all the details.
Note: When you sign up, you'll usually have a choice of a few countries through which to route your connection. Make sure you pick one that's outside of your current location (ie. if in the US, choose a London or Canadian server).
The last thing you want to do is keep going back to your Gmail and checking your login credentials.
Are you using a PPTP connection or something else? What's the server info? Should you route all traffic through the VPN? Check with your VPN provider to get this information and keep it in a safe, but readily accessible place.
(This sounds like more of a pain than it is. And you don't have to know what all the terms mean to use the VPN).
Now it's time to set the VPN up.
For Mac OS X users, check out the guide at PublicVPN.com. If you decided to go with StrongVPN, here's how you'll set it up:
1. Go to System Preferences
2. Click on 'Network'
3. Click the little + icon on the bottom left to add a VPN connection
4. From the drop down box, choose 'VPN' - then choose your VPN type (PPTP most likely) and name your connection (something like 'LIVE OLYMPICS' maybe?)
5. Fill in your server address, account name, etc. that you got from your VPN provider. Then, click 'Advanced' and check the box that says 'Send all traffic over VPN connection.' Hit OK and save it. IAlso make sure you check the box that says 'Show VPN status in menu bar' so you can easily turn the VPN connection on and off.
6. Save it and exit System Preferences.
7. At the top of your screen, in the menu bar, there should be a new icon. Click it and you should see your saved VPN connection. It will say something like 'Connect to LIVE OLYMPICS' or whatever you named the connection.
8. Connect, give it a second, and enjoy surfing through whatever country you set your connection to. A good rule of thumb is to type in 'www.google.com' into your web browser and see what default country it reverts to. If you're connecting through London, you should see Google.co.uk while connected.
Unfortunately, no single version of Windows is standard. A lot of people use Windows XP, while others are stuck on Vista and some have made the plunge into using Windows 7.
Here are several guides with pictures that should help you get your VPN running on Microsoft's OS of choice:
-Configure a VPN connection using Windows XP (Windows Security)
-Windows Vista VPN Setup (PublicVPN)
-How to connect VPN in Windows 7 (Recipester)
As previously mentioned, once your VPN connection is established, wait a few seconds then fire up 'www.google.com' in your web browser.
If everything is working, you should be sent to your VPN server's country page. If you're in London, it'll be Google.co.uk. Canada? Google.ca.
Alternatively, you can just go right to BBC iPlayer or the official Olympics streaming website to see if it works.
And here's the Canadian site that is streaming many of the events live.
You did it!
Now you can enjoy live video of Lindsey Vonn and others competing at the Olympics, just like everyone else in the world.
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