Update March 2020: Back in 2018, I bought this low-cost Mini-router (Mango) without having a clear idea of how to use it, other than to somehow try to get past the RIDICULOUS GEO-restrictions that providers such as the BBC and others put on their TV content. My MT300N (Mango) is yellow incidentally, like the photo. After very carefully reading the instructions and comparing to other routers, I realised what a winner it really is.
But first, the point. I was in Spain when I originally wrote this article in 2018 and on the one hand I could see why the BBC may not wish the Spanish or any other Europeans who don’t pay the BBC tax we call a license, to watch UK content, on the other hand I was and am a UK license paying citizen with the necessary username and password to use the iPlayer. Why then do, for example, the BBC attempt to prevent me from using the service I pay for when I’m in Spain? They should offer instant refunds to those who cannot access the content plus extra for the inconvenience.
As it happens, NowTV and Amazon have the same ridiculous restrictions, despite protecting their content behind username and password systems. For far too long these powerful organisations have had it their way and to hell with convenience for the paying customers.
Even the Roku 2 Box has no VPN capability (I didn’t know that when I bought it) though my little Android boxes do. Traditional Android options make Android box VPN very inconvenient for this purpose as you have to use PIN protection when using VPNs (not much fun with only a mouse), however by putting the VPN into the router and using that to feed a traditional 5-output TP-link router which ONLY feeds these two boxes, I hoped to forget about the hassle while NOT slowing down the rest of my network.The unit seemed to work sometimes showing the VPN IP range, other times reverts to it’s 192.168.8.x internal range. I didn’t at the time know why it was doing this. At best I managed 2 days solid connection to the UK VPN, then lost it. There was nothing wrong with the VPN as I could put it on the Android box if need be but that did not help the other boxes. Ultimately I used PiVPN on a UK-based Raspberry Pi to give me UK access, putting a client for PiVPN onto the Android box in Spain.
Finally we have Netflix. That in my case originally needed the Roku box as Netflix won’t stream to a TV from Android for reasons beyond me. As it happens there are shows on the Spanish version that do not appear on the UK version but I figured I’d happily lose that for the convenience of always-on VPN for the TV.
Remember I’m not suggesting here that anyone attempts to use what you see here to get free TV and movies. As someone who pays for all of these services I object HIGHLY to being told I can’t use them when away from home –especially as a somewhat unwilling BBC license payer.
There was a time when a simple trick with DNS got around these restrictions, not any more. Nor do block-purchased, shared VPNs work well any more, especially on Netflix and the last thing I want is my entire network slowed down with a VPN.
Combining my little sub-£20 Mango router (sitting inside my network here in Spain) with a streaming, dedicated VPN I felt I would be able to, without inconvenience, watch all of these services just as I would in the UK – but as noted above, not reliably. Ultimately I set up a VPN server of my own in the UK after putting in a new Vodafone Fibre high speed always-on solution over there. I found the best solution in the end was to use a Raspberry Pi which was already doing house control, together with PiVPN to access the UK from spain.
For those who panic about power use, none of this stuff uses more than a few watts. I use wired connectivity wherever possible and the Mango also has wireless facilities. The router was in 2018 $18 from Amazon.com, £17 from AliExpress and £20+ from Amazon.co.uk.
You may be interested to know that CBS have brought back Patrick Steward as Jean Luc Picard in a (relatively) new Star Trek series.
Also in case you have been living in a cave, Amazon produced a 3rd series of Man in the High Castle which came out in Autumn 2018 and appeared on Amazon Prime.
I wonder how long it will be before USA-based services get taxed to death in Europe in retaliation for the somewhat childish taxes Trump is imposing on foreign imports – but that’s a whole other conversation and this is a technology blog.
Meanwhile, although ultimately the Mango router (V2) was not needed in Spain, I found it useful back in the UK to simulate the Spanish network – using the latest OpenWrt updates avalable on the web. Works a treat and of course a replica of my Spanish Raspberry Pi working on the Mango and using my UK broadband as WAN, provides access to this “virtual” Spanish setup without actually interfering with the real setup before I get back there.