Global Mode… Gone.

May 12th, 2012 by Dylan Leave a reply »

A new ISP launched in New Zealand last week – FYX – the service was notable for two reasons. Firstly, and least notable of the two – the pricing model was new. A base rate of $34.34 for access, with no bandwidth caps and a flat $0.34/GB for traffic. Pay for what you use, at a fairly decent rate.

The second point was big. Really big. International tech news big. FYX, the ISP itself, was offering a global mode allowing users to effectively bypass the geo-blocks used by content services like Hulu and Netflix in the US, and BBC iPlayer and others elsewhere in the world.

In other news, the new ISP, FYX that made headlines when it launched last week offering a geo-blocking bypass decided to back down on their global mode service. No reason was stated but the service ended up being available for all of about 48 hours in total. Existing users are being offered refunds or lower pricing going ahead.

So, what happened? Why?

No idea. The popular speculation is that they were scared off by legal threats, but I don’t really buy it. There’s really no clear grounds under which they could be threatened legally. There’s nothing in NZ law that seems likely to offer grounds for that.

If you were to look at the case of me as a user (I wasn’t, but it’s easier this way) using Hulu to watch Game of Thrones (I don’t, and it’s not on there, but this is a demonstration case) it’s hard to see who could really do anything to stop FYX. If I am using technology to circumvent Hulu’s geoblock then I am breaking their terms of use, so they could cancel my account (if I had one) or try to stop my access in some way, but that’s between me and Hulu. Similarly Sky who owns the broadcast (and limited on-demand internet catchup rights) to Game of Thrones could feel aggrieved, but FYX isn’t providing the content, Hulu is. It’s up to Hulu to ensure they only provide content where they are allowed to.

However FYX was also backed by a “grown up” ISP (Maxnet) and in reality I think they were probably just a little spooked by the level of attention the service gathered.

As for the service, some evidence and apparently informed insider gossip suggest it was basically just a wholesale version of the service provided by Unblock US. But all is probably not lost, the company it not being very definite about the service being gone, it may well return in the near future.