The internet outside the USA

The internet outside the USA kind of blows.

I’ve now traveled the world a dozen times over and while many countries have much faster and cheaper internet, big companies still give the USA first class treatment for new features.

While running ZipX, I found many websites would just straight up block visitors from certain countries. They did not just not want to handle international shipping, they just decided to block all of them. There were many websites that did this, I recall Macy’s and Sephora in particular.

While in Armenia, my smartphone was not able to use the picture in picture or background playing features on the Youtube and HBO apps. These are features you actually pay extra for.

In Hong Kong, I recall our company Facebook store not being able to pull and show products from a live feed. A feature American Facebook stores have had for a long time.

While in Poland, the captcha for Rockstar Games nearly drove me insane. While the captcha for the USA is one simple question for finding an item

In Poland, it asks you select which dice add up to 14 fifteen times. That is not a typo. If any mistake was made in those fifteen times, it would have you redo all fifteen pages.

It took over an hour to complete.

Throughout most of SE Asia, many sites (usually Cloudflare) would ask for repeated captchas or just straight up block my IP from viewing the website.

In China and a few other countries the government, of course, blocks many major websites as well. But there were many countries that surprised me. Very often websites would break because a CDN was blocked in Indonesia or a country I did not expect.

A surprising number of countries block large parts of the internet due moral or religious laws. For example, all of reddit might be blocked because some pages may contain pornography.

The best solution is to have multiple VPNs ready. Outline is the best one for spinning up a new VPN you host on your own. This was great inside China where they would seem to ban whatever VPN IP I had every few weeks. Near their national holiday, there was times where they banned whatever I spun up within a few hours.

All the popular paid ones out there are okay and varying degrees of working or already blocked by most sites.

Having an international phone plan based in the USA was the most helpful. Even when everything else went down, that seemed to work. The downside was it typically was limited to 2G.