Posted: 10 Apr 2018 12:09 PM PDT
If you’ve been left frustrated by the dreaded Netflix proxy error message, your not alone, and thankfully there is a workaround. Ever since Netflix implemented its overseas VPN ban–preventing customers from accessing its US, UK, and Canadian show catalogs from abroad–VPN providers and users alike have been scrambling for a solution.
When connected to most VPNs, Netflix gives the following error, accompanied by error code m7111-1331-5059:
The battle between Netflix, customers, and VPN providers rages on and viable alternatives are still very much in flux. VPN providers are engaged in a game of cat-and-mouse with Netflix. A server that works today may get blocked tomorrow, while a new servers and IPs are constantly being added.
That said, we’ve come up with a list of VPN providers that offer some means of bypassing the Netlix proxy error message. Many of them require contacting customer service for a fix. Some only work when watching in a web browser, and not with the native Netflix app. Here are our top picks for the best VPNs for Netflix last tested and confirmed as working on March 27, 2018:
Our preferred option. Speeds are fast, stable, and every subscription comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk free. ExpressVPN does indeed bypass the Netflix ban on a couple server locations . These servers may change over time and we don't want to draw undue attention to them, suffice to say they do stream video from US Netflix in good quality from out of country. We recommend subscribers hop on the 24/7 live chat support available on the ExpressVPN website and ask what servers to use. We got a response in about two minutes! Best of all, ExpressVPN is one of the few providers on this list that consistently works with the Netflix iOS and Android apps. That means you can watch US Netflix on an iPhone, iPad, Android smartphone, or Android tablet.
Read our full ExpressVPN review.
NordVPN has informed us it offers Netflix-optimized servers that do not require any special configuration on the customer's side. In our testing, even the servers that say they work with Netflix in the app might get blocked, anyway. You can find out which servers work with Netflix on this help page or by contacting customer support. There you'll find how to use NordVPN to watch US Netflix in a browser, on iOS and Android, and on a router.
READER OFFER: Save 77% on a 3 year plan with NordVPN, which brings the monthly cost down just $2.75.
Read our full NordVPN review.
CyberGhost is now under new ownership and the provider has clearly ramped up its operation with a deluge of new servers and locations. Among them is a dedicated Netflix streaming feature which you can select from the streaming menu in the app. No need to contact customer support or try random servers and hope for the best–the feature is clearly labeled and just works. Users can give instant feedback by clicking a thumbs up or thumbs down to let staff know if the server has been blocked or not. We tested on both desktop and mobile and didn’t encounter any issues.
SAVE OVER 70%: Our readers who subscribe to this CyberGhost deal can get the two-year plan for almost a quarter of the normal price.
Read our full CyberGhost VPN review.
Despite having a smaller network of servers to work with, PrivateVPN unblocked US Netflix both on mobile and desktop platforms in our tests. That includes the Netflix apps for Android and iOS. Not all servers worked all of the time, but the company keeps a list of currently working servers that in our experience is never empty. PrivateVPN scored well in our speed tests, meaning you can continue to stream your favorite Netflix shows in high definition. You'll also get a zero logs service, up to six simultaneous connections, and live chat support.
Read our full PrivateVPN review.
PureVPN recently added Netflix unblocking capabilities to its desktop apps. We recommend using the dedicated IP mode, as the “streaming” and “purpose” options labelled for Netflix didn’t work for us. PureVPN also has live customer support on its website if you encounter any problems. Speeds ranked well in our tests, and should be enough to watch in HD without buffering. Our reviewer also unblocked BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video.
While PureVPN is fine for unblocking Netflix, it falls a bit short of the other VPNs on this list when it comes to privacy and security. We recommend PureVPN if your main concern is watching Netflix US and not privacy protection.
In short, use PureVPN if you’re not concerned about security and privacy and just want to unblock Netflix.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
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Read our full PureVPN review.
Update: Some readers have alerted us that StrongVPN is no longer working with US Netflix. We will test as soon as possible and update this article shortly.
All but two US servers–Miami and Atlanta–bypass the Netflix proxy error when using StrongVPN. This is a particularly good option for Netflix customers in China, as StrongVPN has long been a top choice among expats there and caters well to them. You can also watch Dutch and UK Netflix using StrongVPN from outside of Holland and the UK, respectively. The only downside is that OpenVPN won’t work. We were instructed to use PPTP, which is not a secure protocol, but SSTP also worked when we tested it.
STRONGVPN DISCOUNT: At the time of writing, StrongVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and 42% off their 12 month package as standard. If you’re happy accessing Netflix via a web browser and don’t need it on a mobile device StrongVPN is a good choice.
VyprVPN now works with US Netflix again after a brief hiatus. We were able to log in and stream without any issues from a US server as we normally would without any configuration changes from the default OpenVPN setup. Not all servers work, but some do. We unblocked US Netflix both in Chrome browser and on the Netflix Android app.
MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE: VyprVPN are currently running an offer with a 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans here so you can try it risk free. VyprVPN works with Netflix in a browser but not with the mobile app. If you want to view Netflix on a mobile or tablet, we recommend ExpressVPN or NordVPN.
SaferVPN recently added a "US Streaming" server to its list of locations. When connected to this server, SaferVPN unblocks Netflix in a web browser. In our tests, only desktop web browsers were affected, and SaferVPN could not unblock the Netflix mobile app. If you only watch Netflix in Chrome or Firefox, SaferVPN is a good option thanks to its extremely fast servers.
Read our full SaferVPN review.
HideMyAss recently added a server specifically for users who want to unblock US Netflix. We have tested it and confirmed it works on both desktop browser and Netflix's mobile app on Android and iOS, however we found speeds to be frustratingly slow. We recommend you contact HMA's customer support to ask which server to use and troubleshoot any issues you might have connecting, as you might need to change some other settings on your device as well. The same server also unblocks Hulu. Note that HMA is based in the UK, a country with strict data retention laws for service providers, and it has a history of logging customer browsing data that allegedly resulted in the arrest of one of its users. You can use HideMyAss to unblock Netflix, but privacy-conscious users should look elsewhere.
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VPNs and Smart DNS providers that DO NOT work with Netflix
As of July 5, 2016, like most smart DNS services, IronSocket is now struggling with the Netflix ban and will only work on certain devices, if it all. We recommend opting for one of the VPNs listed above instead.
As of July 5, 2016, Unblock-Us says it will not work on all devices. We’re recommending users go for one of the VPNs listed in this article instead since they have, on the most part, consistently worked during our testing. Update, November 17, 2016: Unblock-Us is now working with Netflix. We have tested this and can confirm that Unblock-Us is evading the Netflix Ban although it won’t work with the Netflix App on mobile devices.
As of July 4, 2016, Unlocator is not working with Netflix anymore. We’ve have official confirmation from the company that Unlocator is blocked by Netflix. We understand a solution is being worked on but were not given a date for when this will be available.
Private Internet Access
PIA has said it does not officially support circumventing geoblocks, and it does not currently work with Netflix.
IPVanish VPN has recently given up the fight against Netflix and has informed us it no longer can bypass the firewall. IPVanish may not work with Netflix but is a very popular choice for torrenting, due to its fast speeds and zero log policy. With a growing number of customers frustrated by the Netflix VPN ban, more and more are turning to torrenting.
Buffered previously was able to unblock Netflix in a web browser on MacOS and Windows, but this is no longer the case as of September 2017. A customer support rep told us, “As of the moment, we are unable to access Netflix US with any of our servers. A fix is being worked on and should be forthcoming fairly shortly. We have no update though as of yet.”
Despite Unotelly openly stating it was “confident that we can continue to deliver quality service to our loyal and supportive users” when it comes to Netflix, Unotelly has been unable to unblock the streaming service since the first half of 2016.
Hola won’t unblock Netflix, and you shouldn’t be using it anyway. The company has a sordid history of abusing members of its peer-to-peer VPN-ish network to distribute pirated materials, pornography, and even carry out distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on websites.
Tunnelbear makes no mention of Netflix on its website, and searching for it in the VPN’s knowledgebase points to a troubleshooting article about how to get around geographic restrictions. But no amount of troubleshooting will help Tunnelbear users unblock Netflix at this time.
GetFlix is a smart DNS proxy service that made its debut heralding a fast and cheap means to unblock Netflix. That didn’t last long, and now the company is stuck with an embarrassing name that brings up painful reminders of when its users were blocked a few months later.
HideIPVPN announced in 2016 that neither its VPN nor its smart DNS proxy service would continue to unblock Netflix. “[…] as stated in our ToS we cannot guarantee that, you will be able to access specific websites or services. For now that is the case with Netflix.”
Netflix intermittently blocked Overplay’s smart DNS proxy and VPN services for about a year starting in 2016. Now the company seems to have given up the fight, scrubbing its website of any mention of Netflix.
Netflix put Blockless’ name to the test in 2016. It failed.
Among a myriad of other reasons you should not be using Hotspot Shield, the fact that it can’t unblock Netflix is pretty low on the list. In a recent FTC complaint, the provider stands accused of hijacking HTTP requests and redirecting users to affiliate sites. It also injects tracking cookies into users browsers. Keep away.
CactusVPN announced in July 2016 that it would wave the white flag of surrender in the war on Netflix. “Unfortunately we can't compare to Netflix's resource so we have to admit: starting today, CactusVPN does not unblock Netflix with Smart DNS or VPN.”
Opera VPN, a proxy built into the Opera browser, will not unblock Netflix.
How to use a VPN with Netflix
Using a VPN with Netflix is easy so long as your provider supports it. Sign up for a recommended VPN service from above and then follow these simple instructions:
Why do these VPNs work when others don’t?
Netflix usually blocks VPN users by their IP address. While we can’t speak for Netflix, the company appears to be blacklisting the IP addresses of known VPN servers. It can even block an entire range of IP addresses from a data center known to host VPN servers, which is why most VPNs are unable to combat Netflix’s firewall.
The VPNs we recommend can all bypass Netflix’s ban using at least one server or location. It’s not that these VPNs never get blocked; it’s just that they are prepared with both the resources and manpower to quickly replace blacklisted servers and IPs with ones that haven’t been blocked yet. This requires more time, expertise, and money than most VPN providers can reliably offer, but those that we recommend make a concerted effort to keep Netflix-unblocking servers up and running at all times.
Why do we advocate for using a VPN with Netflix?
A VPN is not simply a proxy tool to fool apps and websites into thinking the user is somewhere they are not. VPNs are in everyone’s best interest when it comes to privacy. We wholeheartedly recommend everyone use a VPN, whether they are a Netflix subscriber or not.
Netflix’s VPN ban is a blunt instrument put in place to appease copyright holders. It blocks VPN users no matter where they are located so long as a proxy is detected. This is not a fair policy to paying subscribers. Forcing users to turn off their VPNs could sacrifice privacy, especially those connected on unsecured public wi-fi networks or traveling abroad to surveillance-heavy countries.
You have the right to use the VPN, and Netflix should respect that right by not forcing users to make the choice between privacy and entertainment.
Can I unblock Netflix using a smart DNS proxy?
Smart DNS proxies like Unotelly, Overplay, Unlocator, and Unblock-US were a flash in the pan during Netflix’s war on proxies. After Netflix blocked connections from most VPN servers, many users switched to these services instead. A smart DNS proxy is a server that monitors any DNS requests sent from your device. DNS requests are a means of looking up which domain names (e.g. “netflix.com”) are associated with which servers. If it detects a DNS request for Netflix, it sends all the browser traffic for that request through the server to an American Netflix server, thereby changing both your IP address and DNS server.
This approach worked for a few months until it caught the attention of Netflix, and a subsequent crackdown blocked most smart DNS proxy users. Today, a handful of smart DNS proxy services can still unblock Netflix, but the only one that’s consistently worked for us is ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer service. MediaStreamer is a smart DNS proxy service that comes with every ExpressVPN subscription. It’s used by default when you connect to the VPN, or you can set it up separately so that it’s used on its own.
I’m travelling and want to access US Netflix Abroad, which countries will these VPNs work in?
The VPN services listed should allow you to unblock US Netflix in any country you might be traveling to, other than those where media is censored and VPNs are actively blocked by a firewall such as China (see our list of the VPNs working in China and pick one that works there, too). In pretty much every other country, the VPNs in our list will work. In fact, we've received comments or emails from people in Canada, the UK, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, France, Israel, Spain, Ireland, South Africa, and Italy telling us they've successfully accessed US Netflix!
What about accessing other countries’ Netflix?
A VPN that unblocks US Netflix won’t necessarily be able to unblock the Netflix catalogs of other countries. While the US version of Netflix is highest in demand by far, we’ve also made up lists of the best VPNs for a few other popular countries:
How to unblock the Netflix app by setting up the VPN on a router
When using a browser such as Chrome or Firefox, any of the VPNs recommended above should allow you to watch American Netflix without any issues. Both traffic and DNS requests are sent through the VPN, preventing Netflix from determining your true location.
When using a Netflix native app, however, the app can override the DNS routing used by a VPN and send requests to your nearest public DNS server. This means Netflix can determine the user’s true location and block them accordingly, even with a VPN app switched on. ExpressVPN and NordVPN have figured out how to overcome this behavior, so they both work with the iOS and Android Netflix apps so this won’t be a problem for if you are using one of these two VPNs.
ExpressVPN and NordVPN will unblock the Netflix app on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. But other devices–Roku, Chromecast, smart TVs, game consoles, Fire TV, etc–do not support any VPNs. As such, even ExpressVPN and NordVPN have no apps for them. For those devices, you need to configure a router or buy a pre-configured one.
For the VPNs that don’t unblock Netflix on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, router configuration is also the best alternative.
The VPN must be set up on the wifi router that your device is connected to. This process varies depending on your router’s firmware, and you may have to flash a new firmware onto the router that supports VPNs (Tomato or DD-WRT). You can usually find router setup instructions and configuration details on your provider’s website.
If you don't feel comfortable doing all that, ExpressVPN sells pre-configured routers and also offers free router firmware that can be installed on select routers. You can simply buy a router or flash the free firmware onto a compatible router and save yourself the hassle of a complicated procedure. This should unblock Netflix on any device.
Once the VPN is set up, you’ll also need to configure your firewall to forward DNS queries to our DNS servers (or whatever DNS servers the VPN service in question uses to bypass the Netflix ban). Again, look to your provider for instructions on how to accomplish this.
Netflix app vs Netflix in a web browser
A VPN that unblocks Netflix in a web browser might not unblock the Netflix app on your mobile device, set-top box, or smart TV. That’s because a web browser must use the DNS servers specified by the operating system. Most VPN apps take care of this for you and route all DNS requests to their own in-house DNS servers, which ensures that DNS requests match the location of your VPN server.
The Netflix app, however, can override a device’s DNS settings and force DNS requests to be sent to either a public DNS nameserver or the default ISP’s nameserver. This results in a mismatch between where the user’s IP address is located and where their DNS requests come from. That’s a red flag indicating the viewer is using a VPN or some other type of proxy, resulting in the dreaded Netflix proxy error message.
Unblock Netflix on Apple TV
Apple TV does not have built-in support for VPNs, which means you’ll need some other means of routing traffic through the VPN. There are three options we know of:
Netflix VPN ban: What the VPN providers say
To find out more about their ongoing fight, we spoke to executives from NordVPN, Buffered, VyprVPN, ExpressVPN and LiquidVPN for some insight from the front lines.
“We are receiving an unprecedented number of inquiries from people looking to access Netflix service, suggesting there are not a lot of VPNs left that offer an alternative workaround,” NordVPN CIO Emanuel Morgan tells Comparitech. “Keeping up with offering new workaround solutions might require significant resources and it is understandable that some services chose to forgo advocating for this issue – choosing to concentrate their resources on primary service functions (offering privacy and security solutions) instead.”
Morgan says Netflix probably isn’t targeting isolated VPN providers. He believes a combination of techniques is used to block them. One of those techniques, says LiquidVPN CEO Dave Cox, is by identifying connections coming from data centers instead of residences. He goes on to explain that the Netflix apps combat SmartDNS services by forcing you to use a public DNS server and frequently change the URLs that do geolocation for their content. This makes it impossible for services that could support thousands of customers streaming at a time by only forwarding the geolocation packets through their servers.
Buffered CEO Jordan Fried suspects Netflix could put the final nail in the VPN coffin if it truly wished to do so. Instead, it has resisted to avoid losing more customers. The argument against a billing address-based filtering scheme, Netflix might argue, is that the copyright licensing restrictions apply to where content is being watched from, not where the subscriber’s money comes from.
It’s not just Netflix. Hulu, BBC iPlayer, HBO Now, and several other streaming providers have all implemented VPN bans at some level. Should the trend continue, legally watching licensed content online from any site would require users to relinquish their privacy. Constantly maintaining a Netflix workaround requires significant resources. Each of the VPNs we contacted were optimistic, but not certain, that they would still have a workaround six months from now.
Are the solutions listed here no longer working for you? Do you know of any other VPN services that bypass Netflix’s anti-VPN firewall? Drop us a note in the comments!
The post Netflix proxy error Fix – 9 VPNs that still unblock Netflix in 2018 appeared first on Comparitech.
Posted: 10 Apr 2018 03:37 AM PDT
Comcast is the largest internet service provider in the United States, and perhaps the most notorious for throttling its customers’ internet bandwidth. Xfinity is a brand owned and operated by Comcast that bundles cable TV, broadband internet, and landline phone services. If you’re a Comcast or Comcast Xfinity customer, this article will help you overcome the ISP’s attempts to throttle your internet speed by using a VPN.
Since broadband privacy rules were repealed in 2017, internet service providers can track what you do online and sell that information to advertisers. A VPN will also prevent Comcast from spying on your internet activity and sharing that information with third parties, which is unfortunately now legal in the US.
Customers have a lot of reasons to dislike Comcast, but this article will focus on throttling and broadband privacy. Comcast throttles, or slows down, internet speed when it notices you are doing something online that Comcast doesn’t approve of. Notably, such activities have included torrenting and streaming Netflix.
To bypass throttling and snooping by Comcast, we recommend using a VPN. Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN encrypts all of a device’s internet traffic and routes it through an intermediary server in a remote location. The encryption ensures Comcast cannot see the contents of your web traffic, and using the VPN server as a middleman ensures that Comcast cannot see which websites, apps, and services you access.
Not all VPNs will improve your experience with Comcast. We’ve curated our list of the best VPNs for Comcast Xfinity based on the following criteria:
Here are our top picks for the best VPN for Comcast customers:
ExpressVPN is one of the best and biggest all-round VPN providers with servers in more than 90 countries. Based in the British Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN is not subject to any data retention laws and keeps no logs of your IP address or traffic contents. Servers are generally fast enough to stream video in HD and download large files. P2P filesharing is allowed. ExpressVPN has some servers that can unblock geo-locked content and bypass VPN bans on sites and apps like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer.
ExpressVPN uses future-proof encryption standards that can’t be cracked unless you have a supercomputer lying around. Even then, an attack would only be able to decrypt data from a short time period thanks to built-in perfect forward secrecy. A kill switch and DNS leak protection ensure none of your data ever escapes the encrypted VPN tunnel.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, and certain wifi routers. Users are afforded three simultaneous connections.
3 MONTHS FREE: Get an additional three months free here when you sign up for the ExpressVPN annual plan. The deal includes its 30-day money-back guarantee so you’ll receive a full refund if unsatisfied.
Read our full ExpressVPN review.
NordVPN operates over 3,500 servers in more than 60 countries. The Panama-based company has a proven track record of never storing any logs about its VPN users. NordVPN allows you to see the distance and current load of any server to make it easier to find one that best suits your needs. Some servers can unblock geo-locked content like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer. Other servers are optimized for specific purposes, like double VPN, Tor over VPN, and anti-DDoS.
Nord employs military-grade encryption. A kill switch is included that will halt internet traffic if the VPN connection drops. You can choose to cut off the internet to specific applications only or the entire device. DNS leak protection and a CyberSec feature go a step further to protect you from snooping and other online threats. You can torrent on any server, but a few are specifically optimized for P2P filesharing.
NordVPN makes apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. You may connect up to six devices at one time.
Read our full NordVPN review.
IPVanish is a US-based provider, but the company doesn’t store any logs whatsoever about how you use the VPN or the contents of your internet traffic. The company operates its own network of more than 1,000 servers in over 60 countries. IPVanish isn’t as adept as other VPNs on this list when it comes to unblocking streaming sites like Netflix, but it’s a favorite among torrenters and Kodi users who need rock-solid privacy protections.
The provider uses the highest-level encryption on the market. A kill switch and DNS leak protection both come bundled in the apps. You can also toggle options for traffic obfuscation and set the app to change your IP address at specified intervals.
IPVanish makes apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Fire TV. Five simultaneous connections are allowed.
READER DEAL: Save up to 60% on IPVanish here. This includes a 7-day money-back guarantee so you can try the service risk free.
Read our full IPVanish review.
CyberGhost operates more than 1,300 servers in nearly 60 countries. The app allows you to choose a server by location or by how you plan to use it. If you want to stream Netflix, for example, you can simply select that option rather than figuring out which servers work through trial and error. Amazon Prime and BBC iPlayer are among the many channels that CyberGhost can unblock.
The Romania-based provider keeps no logs and uses 256-bit AES encryption to protect your data and keep it private from Comcast and other prying eyes. DNS leak protection and a kill switch are included with the apps. Extra protections include anti-tracking and anti-malware features. Speeds are excellent and P2P filesharing is tolerated.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
Read our full CyberGhost review.
PrivateVPN is a fast-growing up-and-comer from Sweden. While its network is a bit smaller than the other VPNs on this list, it doesn’t sacrifice speed, security, or performance. PrivateVPN bypassed VPN bans and geographic restrictions on pretty much every site we threw at it including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu. The servers are clearly marked to indicate whether Netflix can be accessed or not.
The young provider uses top-of-the-line encryption standards and adheres to a strict zero-logs policy. You can enable a kill switch to stop traffic from being sent over the unencrypted network should the VPN connection drop at any point. DNS leak protection is built into the apps. PrivateVPN allows P2P filesharing.
PrivateVPN makes apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. You may connect up to six devices at a time.
Read our full PrivateVPN review.
Can I use a free VPN for Comcast Xfinity?
We generally recommend avoiding any so-called free VPN for Comcast Xfinity. These services are far more limited in a number of ways and can actually worsen your overall experience with Comcast.
Free VPNs tend to have a limited selection of very congested servers. They often impose data caps, limit bandwidth, or force you to wait in a queue before connecting. Free VPNs will almost certainly slow down your connection even further, making them a counterproductive means to combat bandwidth throttling.
Many free VPNs employ shady practices to pay the bills, including harvesting your internet traffic for personal details and selling the data to third-party advertisers. Some will inject advertisements into your web browser, and a few even carry malware payloads that can infect your device.
Hit your data cap? A VPN won’t help
Throttling bandwidth and capping data are two different practices employed by internet service providers, although the two do overlap in certain respects.
Bandwidth throttling, as discussed, slows down your internet speed. Within the scope of this article, bandwidth is throttled to discourage a specific behavior. For example, Comcast throttled peer-to-peer internet traffic to discourage users from downloading files via BitTorrent. When you connect to a VPN.
Data caps limit how much total data you upload and download after you reach a certain threshold. Most Xfinity customers have 1TB monthly data caps. Unlike bandwidth throttling, data caps are not based on how you use the internet, but on the amount of data transmitted. Once you reach the cap, Comcast will automatically charge you $10 extra per 50GB of additional data consumed.
A VPN cannot help you avoid data caps. Even though Comcast can’t see the contents of your traffic or where it’s going while you’re connected to a VPN, it can monitor the amount of data that passes through its network. There’s no getting around this, save for switching to a different ISP.
Comcast bandwidth throttling: then and now
Comcast’s first high-profile case of bandwidth throttling occurred in 2006. The company installed hardware in its network called Sandvine. Sandvine disrupted the protocols used by peer-to-peer filesharing networks like BitTorrent, preventing Comcast customers from uploading files. Comcast did not disclose the new policy to customers. After an FCC investigation in 2008, the commission ruled Comcast’s network management was unreasonable and ordered the company to terminate its discriminatory practices.
Comcast complied with the order, but appealed it in court. In Comcast Corp. v. FCC, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the FCC does not have adequate jurisdiction to issue such an order. Later in 2008, Comcast was found to have throttled VoIP applications like Skype and Facetime.
In 2010, the FCC issued the Open Internet Order, which enshrined net neutrality in law. While Comcast never challenged it in court, the order prevented Comcast from reinstating bandwidth throttling on P2P traffic. The company also removed blocking and throttling of VoIP traffic.
Sometime in the latter half of 2013, Comcast and Verizon both began throttling Netflix streams, resulting in longer buffering times and poor quality video for broadband subscribers. Due to the large amount of data necessary to stream video and the growing popularity of Netflix, Comcast and Verizon claimed they were being taken advantage of. Netflix argued it and its customers were being discriminated against.
In 2014, Comcast and Netflix reached a deal wherein Netflix would pay Comcast to end the throttling. The agreement was arranged out of court, so no legal precedent was set. It did, however, set a precedent wherein internet companies pay ISPs for favorable service, toeing the line that distinguishes net neutrality from paid prioritization.
Even as late as 2018, Comcast hijinks have disrupted customers’ internet. In March, the ISP’s “protected browsing” setting blocked sites like Steam and PayPal.
Comcast has lobbied extensively in Washington to combat laws that promote net neutrality. In 2017, it saw its efforts come to fruition thanks to new FCC chairman Ajit Pai. Pai led repeals of two major consumer protections: broadband privacy and net neutrality.
Near the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, Pai also repealed the Open Internet Order, an FCC rule that required all internet traffic be treated equally by ISPs like Comcast. The order categorized ISPs in the same class of business as utilities, which did not allow ISPs to discriminate based on how their customers used the internet or what sites, apps, and services they use.
With these two consumer protections out of the way, Comcast subscribers should expect their browsing data to be harvested and their traffic throttled in the coming months and years. Comcast has already begun working with other large ISPs to ban state net neutrality laws. If you’re a Comcast customer, now is the time to invest in a VPN.
How a VPN stops Comcast from spying on you
The broadband privacy repeal allows ISPs like Comcast to use and sell browsing data and other information about how its customers use the internet to third parties, sparking outrage among privacy advocates. Because everything you do online goes through your ISP’s network infrastructure, Comcast could unearth personal info like what websites you visit, products you buy, emails and text messages, social media posts, and search queries. It can then take all that information and sell it to a third party, such as an advertising network or data broker.
This allows Comcast to “double dip”, meaning it makes money from you paying for a subscription and by selling your browsing data.
A VPN stops such data collection practices full stop. While you’re connected to the VPN, all your internet traffic is encrypted as it passes through Comcast’s network and servers. Because Comcast cannot decrypt it, there is no useful information for them to collect. And because all that data goes to the VPN server before being sent to its final destination, Comcast cannot keep track of what sites you visit. Just make sure you pick a good VPN, such as those recommended above, with strong encryption and leak protection.
The post 5 Best VPNs for Comcast Xfinity: Keep your online activity private stop and bandwidth throttling appeared first on Comparitech.
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