Did you get an Android mobile for Christmas? Bet you want to check out all the cool apps in the Google Play Store. Fat chance, many have been blocked here in the Channel Islands for years. Jersey is not even mentioned on the supported locations page. What is worse, many free apps are blocked — like the BBC’s iPlayer for Android. The carriers are all well aware and have been pledging to fix this for years by liaising with Google. That isn’t working, time to take charge and fix this right here in Jersey.
There is a simple and inexpensive workaround that our mobile operators should offer which fixes this right now.
Carriers can set up a UK VPN on a WiFi hotspot in-store which will immediately enable visitors to download all apps as if they were physically in the UK. Paid apps, free apps, everything. I have been using VPNs to circumvent geographic restrictions for years and they work perfectly.
Once you have an app installed you can update it on whichever connection you normally use. You don’t need to go back to the shop each time. If you connect to a UK VPN and don’t see paid apps immediately, simply clear the store app cache in
Settings > Apps > All > Google Play Store.
If you manage one of the mobile carrier shops here in Jersey you should be asking yourself if you can be the first to provide this solution to customers.
Smarter managers will recognise that Android users on your competitors’ network can also come in your shop and use your WiFi VPN, whilst you show them your latest plans and offers. The cost of an inexpensive router + UK VPN are very minimal. No need to restrict this to existing customers. And any new customer purchasing a handset in-store could have everything set up and working before they leave.
That is just good customer service, and with better prices online you need to do something extra to stay competitive.
Jersey Post solved a very similar issue with their innovative ship2me scheme, supporting Jersey customers wanting to order from merchants requiring a UK postal address.
You use ship2me’s postal address for routing parcels to a point in the UK and Jersey Post handle the transfer from that point to you back here in Jersey. Computers use something called an IP address to route data packets and a UK VPN works much like ship2me, providing a UK IP address. You might expect Jersey’s high-tech mobile operators would at least keep up with the postman but they look to be lagging in the creative thinking department.
Are you a non-technical Android user looking for a solution right now?
If you are an Android user and want something simple that you can do right now, see this earlier blog post from 2013 where I offer some alternatives. Once you finish reading that, don’t forget to contact your mobile carrier and ask them to fix this finally!
Want someone to fix this for you? You are welcome to contact me via my business website for help with this and any other IT support you need.
Are you a more technical user wanting to solve this yourself?
No need to wait for the carriers, use what the rest of us geeks are using. Have a look at DigitalOcean’s OpenVPN Access Server tutorial which will walk you through setting up a VPN — pick one of their US$5/month servers in London (obviously) which will work perfectly for this task.
You will need to be proficient with SSH and setting up a cloud server but there are many other tutorials to help you learn if you are keen. Next, just install the Android OpenVPN Connect app on your mobile.
https://YourIPAddress:943/ then download and transfer the
client.ovpn file to your mobile for using with the app.