Slingshot has launched a “Global Mode” option on its accounts – a feature that will allow the ISP's customers to access TV and movie streaming services like Netflix and Hulu in the US that usually geo-block New Zealanders.
The new feature goes live 1pm today.
While tech-savvy internet users know how to beat geo-blocking, Slingshot has legitimised the practice, and made it easy. All you have to do is enable the feature on your account via Slingshot’s website. The company promises it will be enabled within 10 minutes of you opting in.
Global mode is free.
Slingshot (CallPlus’ residential brand) is marketing Global Mode as a service for foreigners visiting New Zealand.
However, Slingshot general manager Scott Page tells NBR there will be no verification process. The ISP will take it on faith that a person is a temporary visitor to New Zealand or that they are, for example, hosting a non-NZ resident in their home who has a legitimate right to access services in their home country.
Mr Page adds, “We expect all consumers to comply with the terms and conditions of the service providers.” Such terms and conditions usually ban proxy servers and other tools for beating geo-blocking.
Last year, when Maxnet spin-off Fyx launched a short-lived global mode, Chapman Tripp gave the service the legal thumbs up in an independent assessment for NBR. But Fyx parent company, Maxnet, was bought by Australia's Vocus shortly after and the new owner shut-off the global mode plans.
Vocus told NBR it did not see legal issues, but did not want the complications that went with the controversial service as it refocused Maxnet on business, wholesale and data centre services.
Asked if Callplus has sought legal advice before launching Global Mode, Mr Page said it had but "we always take legal advice on our product launches so this is not extraordinary".
Slingshot’s news is yet another headache for Sky TV, which is already facing headaches from the pending Coliseum Sports Media launch that has seen its shares slump 6%.
Mr Page says Slingshot has around 150,000 customers.
There is clearly interest in the area of geo-block busting. NBR's story Geo-block busting ISP gets thumbs up from Chapman Tripp, on Maxnet's short-lived service, was easily this site's best read article of 2012.