Hola Lets You Watch Region-Blocked Videos From Any Country For Free

An ambitious new startup with dreams to make the internet "10x faster" has launched a service that lets anyone anywhere in the world access region-blocked content, such as Hulu, Netflix and BBC iPlayer TV. Unlike other proxy solutions, it doesn't slow down your traffic, it works in your browser and it's totally free.

Hola Unblocker has been available as a Chrome and Firefox extension since December, but it has just expanded to include websites like CBC, Fox and BBC's iPlayer TV. You simply install the extension, then go to the website with the region-blocked content you want to access. You don't have to restart your computer — you don't even have to restart your browser. There have been some reports of the extension suddenly not working on a particular site, as well as a few glitches here and there. Our tests showed that the BBC iPlayer TV worked in Chrome, but not in Firefox. Hulu worked as advertised. It's technically still in beta, but the reviews appear to be overwhelmingly positive so far.

Hola was started by two guys with "a thesis that HTTP could be re-invented". It sounds crazy, but it has apparently received $US18 million from investors to pursue its broader plans to make the internet faster using "a combination of patented technologies — caching, multiple sources, compression, P2P protocols and other technologies".

Hola has also put out a Windows and Android app that supposedly speeds up many (not all) websites, gives you faster downloads and minimises video buffering. The Android app contains an internet accelerator, although it can't unblock content just yet. The Windows app contains both the internet accelerator and the unblocker, as well as a connection manager that helps you find and connect to Wi-Fi networks.

The main difference between Hola Unblocker and other VPN/proxy services that we've found so far is its ability to unblock content without slowing everything down. Hola explains how it achieves this on its FAQ page:

Hola sends only the traffic to the blocked site through other servers. The rest of your traffic flows to the websites you are visiting without going through a proxy. If you have the Hola software installed on your computer or phone, your web browsing will actually be faster than without Hola.

So what's the catch? How can it be free? Hola answers those questions and more on its FAQ page. Here's a snippet:

How is Hola free? Hola is the only service of its type that is free because Hola's technology does not require us to have actual servers — as more people join the network, they pool their resources to help each other to make a better Internet for all, and thus we have no additional costs per user. And that cost savings is translated in to a free product. We plan to make our money from premium services we will offer in the future.

How does Hola make the Internet faster? The Internet is slowed down by server response times, Internet congestion, round trip times, and poorly written communication stacks in operating systems. Hola removes these bottlenecks by securely caching content on peers as they view it, and later serving it up to other nearby peers as they need it. Hola also compresses communication and employs a patented DNS acceleration to speed the net further. As more people install and use Hola, the faster and less congested it will be!

Will Hola slow down my computer? Hola will not use your computer (or phone) to help other Peers if you are using your computer. Hola is designed to always provide service which is at least as good as your Internet service would have been without Hola.

How is Hola Unblocker free if VPN solutions cost money? Hola is the only service of its type that is free because Hola's Better Internet technology does not require us to have actual servers. As more people join the Hola network, they pool their resources to help each other to make a better Internet for everyone, and so Hola has no additional cost per user. That cost savings is translated into a free product (free for us means no advertising either).

How does Hola affect my privacy? Hola's network receives much of the same kind of information you currently send to your ISP when you surf the web. Since Hola's communications are typically encrypted, it provides a higher level of privacy than regular HTTP browsing. Hola collects information such as web sites visited and URLs loaded in order to accelerate the Internet for other Hola users. Hola also caches encrypted copies of the content you've viewed in order to assist other Hola users that have access to the same content. For example, if you've read an article in the NewYorkTimes.com web site, and another Hola user has access to the same article, that other user Hola client may load parts of that page from your cache, if your computer is idle. You can stop the Hola acceleration by pressing 'Stop Acceleration' in the Hola menu.

You can find many more questions and answers over at Hola. [The Next Web]

What do you guys think? Have you tried it yet?

Republished from Gizmodo.


Comments

    I don't like the idea of a constant P2P. Maybe if bandwidth was unlimited here and hola was open source.

    Is there a reason that your article appears here 17.5 hours i read the same one on gizmodo.

    I think Allure needs a Gizhacker.com.au which combines the two sites without the annoying duplication.

      Exactly. But then agian, why not do it if you can double your page count without generation any extra content.

        Yeah its dodgy crap like that makes me abandon sites. They will get very short term gains, but in the end they are only damaging their reputation and irritating their readers.

          Belated reply -- no-one forced you to read the article twice :) Traffic analysis suggests there's not much overlap between Giz and Lifehacker readers, so we do cross-post when an article seems relevant to both audiences.

            Really Angus, there's not much overlap between Giz & LH readers ? Are you saying the "Across Our Network" footer and other Allure site links on the header are't getting much click action then ? How bizarre ... if I'm having a slow day at the office I'll always start out with LH, then switch to Kotaku, and round out my day with Giz (all in between flipping between the mainstream Fairfax, News and MSN portals, and NewScientist) ! I would have thought it's a bit of a 'given' if you read the one (Giz or LH) you'll read all 3. Without being sexist I would have assumed the same pattern over on the 'female-targeted" side of the network as well i.e. a Bellasugar reader is also bound to be a Popsugar and Fabsugar reader ?

              no one is forcing you two visit these sites

              Despite all those opportunities, the overlap percentages aren't enormous -- certainly not large enough to make me think we should never cross-post stuff.

                I don't read Gizmodo, I prefer engadget (oh horror!) for tech news and this article was very helpful to me. So nyah! :-P

            I didn't read the whole thing twice, but i had to skim it to make sure i wasnt crazy.

            1) it just adds more noise to the article list
            2) i have to have a look to see if i am going crazy, read it elsewhere or its a dupe
            3) like zippy says, im surprised there is not a wide reader overlap between LH and the other sites. LH applies to everyone. I can understand a smaller overlap between giz and kotaku and popsugar etc.
            What you may need to do if you are posing a story on one site, that also applies to other sites instead of reposting 12+hours later, have the one post show up on all sites at the same time so comments are shared, but post it under a banner showing what site it was written for originally and you might be more likely to get people interested in the other sites without irritating those that already do read multiple sites. For those that are logged in (would be even better if i didnt have to re-login every few days) they could opt to not see stuff from certain sites here (like i really only care about LH and Giz on the odd occasion i see a interesting article on the footer for Kotaku but not enough to include it in the main feed).

    I was about to add this to Chrome when I saw what access it was being given:

    This extension can access:
    Your data on all websites
    Your tabs and browsing activity

    No thanks!

      Ignorant commenter is ignorant.

        Really? Lets have a look at what Google have to say about those warnings from Chrome:
        http://support.google.com/chrome_webstore/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=186213&rd=1
        Your data on all websites
        This item can read every page that you visit -- your bank, your web email, your Facebook page, and so on. Often, this kind of item needs to see all pages so that it can perform a limited task such as looking for RSS feeds that you might want to subscribe to.

        and

        Your data on {list of websites}
        This item can read the pages that you visit on the specified websites.

        I'm just pointing out that those warning are put there for a reason. I'm not saying the Hola people are using that data, but there is a possibility your data may be exposed.

        But feel free to use it. I'm not stopping you.

        Last edited 25/01/13 2:11 pm

          Ignorant commenter is even more ignorant...

          This item CAN

          Those are just the only permissions offered by chrome without having to release new updates for "Hola" every single time they want to add a new website to their list.

            Obvious troll is obvious.

            I said "I'm not saying the Hola people are using that data, but there is a possibility your data may be exposed."

            So pull your head your of your arse and quit trolling. You think your funny ... but your just an idiot.

            Last edited 28/01/13 7:34 pm

    Love it, worked straight away but it just seems to good to be true.

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