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Accessing US based services from Zimbabwe

   
Why is it all the good stuff is not available here?
Why is it all the good stuff is not available here?

In a previous article we looked at how Amazon was reportedly piloting a library like feature where customers could access books for a fixed monthly charge. We went on to look at other similar services like Oyster Books and Scribd which are currently on the market.

All to often most of these services and pilots are restricted to the US market and in a lot of cases even if they are unveiled the Zimbabwean market is not a priority for most merchants and service providers.

This is true even in cases where the service does not expressly prohibit access by Zimbabweans. For example Netflix’s terms of use do not expressly or implicitly prohibit access by Zimbabweans. You only need to be 18 years and above and have access to a good internet connection with a US based IP address and a US based credit card or PayPal account.

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Using such services is sort of a grey area and most certainly preferable to blatant piracy in the form of torrents. Please take note of the disclaimer at the end of this article.

In this article and ones that will follow I will give you hints and tips on how to access a number of US based services from Zimbabwe including Hulu (and Hulu+), Netflix, Oyster Books and Amazon services.

Even when and where services are available from Zimbabwe it is usually advantageous to access them from the US since this market usually gets a lot of perks like discounts and early access to new features.

It would require a series of articles to cover each service but as a preamble I am going to give you a general condensed version of things that are required.

  1. A good internet connection– Depending with the type of service that you intend to access, a good internet connection is always a must except maybe when you want to access books or are just shopping. As a general guideline you will need a 3 Mbps connection to be able to access streaming content in SD (usually 480p) and a 5 Mbps connection to access HD content ( from 720p-1080p). Unless Strive Masiyiwa is your uncle you can forget about accessing UHD content (anything above 1080p) because you will need at least a 25 Mbps connection. It is still possible to use slower connections but by the time you are done you will be bald headed.
  2. A US address- Although not required in some instances it is usual for these services to ask you for a physical address. USABox.com offers free US based address that are fully functional. Please note they charge various fees for extra services so be sure to familiarise yourself with these charges.
  3. A US based VPN-  Most of these services have a geo-based filter. You will need a VPN service to access the sites. Although there are a lot of free VPN services out there a premium based service is preferable as it is faster. I suggest unblock-us.com and Hola.org which both cost $5/month.
  4. A US based Credit Card- A lot of services (like Netflix) do not check to verify the origin of your Visa/ MasterCard some like Oyster books and Amazon Instant do check however. You can always use Payoneer. Just make sure that you change the address in your Payoneer card account to the USABox.com account. You can load funds to the card by creating a new US based PayPal account linking the Payoneer card to this account. Send money from your Zimbabwean PayPal account to the US based account and then withdraw these funds to your Payoneer card. Please note you may be charged various fees along the way. You can also purchase a US based virtual card from various sellers e.g. USunlocked. Make sure you understand the applicable fees.
  5. A US based PayPal account– some services like Netflix also accept a US based PayPal account. You can simply create a US based account using a USABox.com account, verify the account using a Payoneer card or a virtual card, send funds to it using your normal Zimbabwean account and making your payment.
  6. Bucket loads of money

N.B. Sometimes PayPal frowns on such “weird” activity and blocks or limits your accounts. So you have been warned. You can always tell them you travel a lot: which is sort of true in cyber-speak.

To access any of the US based services you only need to set up geo-unblocking, visit the relevant website, signup using a US based address, pay using a US based card/US PayPal account and voilà!

Disclaimer

Nothing in the foregoing shall be construed as supporting piracy, violating the terms and conditions of the appropriate services.

Image Credit: Vivaveltoro


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