I’ve been a fan of Overplay for some time. By using their VPN service, I can make my laptop or Tablet appear to be anywhere in the world that I want to be, so I can get around geolocation restrictions on content I want to access. This is especially useful for Netflix, HBO, and other US broadcasters that don’t want non-US audience to access their content.
I reached a point, however, when I wanted to make the VPN service accessible to my Apple TV, which doesn’t allow for any special VPN configuration. Overplay does offer a new service that mucks about with DNS to make you appear at times to be somewhere else, but this didn’t really work for me. And it didn’t work for Netflix.
Even though I have a US Netflix account, because I have a US bank account, I realised recently that they were still georestricting content to me. In the US trades, they had just announced a new show that I couldn’t see in the New Releases area, so I realised something was amiss.
It was time, then, to purchase a router that could route all my network traffic over a VPN to the US!
Configuring a router is not for the faint-hearted. Overplay has some relationship with a vendor who will drop-ship preconfigured devices (with a firmware override). Don’t ask me why I didn’t do this – it would have been the smart thing to do. Instead, I wanted the cheapest router I could find that could do the job, so that I could write it off if it didn’t work without feeling sorry for myself.
I chose the Cisco RV-180, because it fit the bill. It was just under $120 and seemed to offer everything I needed.
The next day, it arrived and, unbeknownst to me, I eagerly plunged into what soon became router config Hell.
To make a long story short, I did get it to work. It took me five hours. And, truthfully, I was about to give up and throw the thing against the wall… but I made that ‘one last tweak’ and, suddenly, it worked perfectly.
I was presently surprised, too, by the speed that I achieved with the streaming. There was very little delay in playing anything over the Apple TV box. Netflix content had very little lag to start. And, I did see the show that was advertised in the US but not available to me before! Also, I was pleasantly surprised to see some new Apps appear that I hadn’t seen before for HBO, PBS, and other Disney channel content (that isn’t available to us in Europe).
If any of you are planning on doing this for yourselves with a Cisco RV-180, here’s what you have to do:
1) Connect the WAN port of the Cisco device to your network. You cannot get the settings to work over its other Ethernet ports. Even though it expects to connect to a broadband modem of some kind, it will work without actually doing this. Instead, you are going to use your existing router to route traffic over the Internet and fool the Cisco into thinking otherwise.
2) Under “Networking” > “WAN” > “IPv4 WAN (Networking)” section, you are going to set up the following:
– Internet Connection Type: PPTP
– Username: [your Overplay account name]
– Password: [your Overplay account password]
– MPPE Encryption: [checked – yes]
– Address Mode: Dynamic IP
– Server Address: [you need to get an IP address from Overplay. They do not openly publish this information. Contact customer support and tell them what geographic location you want to appear to be coming from. Cisco will not allow you to enter a dynamic named address here, only an IP address]
– MTU Type: “Custom” 1450
3) Under “Networking” > “LAN (Local Network)” section, create your own network INDEPENDENT of your existing network, so that the devices that attach to this router will be independent from your other equipment. For example, if your existing router is on “192.168.1.1” (for example), then make this “10.0.2.1” for the Cisco, or vice versa.
– note: you will not be able to run a DHCP service to the equipment that must use this router, as this will conflict with any other DHCP services running on your network. You will need to hard-IP your equipment on this new, dedicated IP range, so that they can see and use this router.
– Jumbo Frames: [checked – enabled – yes]
– VLAN Membership: [checked – enabled – yes]
4) Under “Networking” > “Routing” set “Routing mode” to “Router” and NOT ‘Gateway’.
5) Under “VPN” > “IPSEC” > “Basic VPN Setup” do the following:
– “This VPN will connect to the following peers:” choose “Gateway”
– “Local WANs IP Address:” [enter the IP address that your broadband router gives to your existing router, the one that you had before the Cisco. Most likely you’ll find this information on that router’s connection information. In other words, you existing broadband router will have made the connection to your Internet provider and received back a static IP of that remote address. This is what you want to put in here, so that the Cisco knows where to send the WAN packets.]
6) Configure your Apple TV, or whatever, to point to the address of the Cisco router as its Gateway. For DNS servers, use “126.96.36.199” and “188.8.131.52”, which are Google’s.
That’s pretty much it. Took me awhile to figure it all out, though.
When it’s working, go to the “Status” > “System Summary” screen and you should see the following:
– your local IP address and subnet are working and there is NO DHCP server service.
– your “WAN (Internet) Information” will show a PPTP connection to the remote IP address you gave, which should automatically populate the DNS server and Gateway IP address (from your broadband modem service).
For those who want extra credit, you can configure your existing Internet router to IP forward to your Cisco, so that you don’t have to switch networks to configure it. This will be handled differently by different devices. I use a Draytek Vigor and it allowed me to set up a sort of static route of sorts to allow me to allocate a IP address on the “192.198.1..” range to the Cisco sitting on “10.0.2.1”.