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What Are Mobile Proxies?
In order to define mobile proxies, we’ll have to start with a more general definition of proxy servers. Namely, a proxy server is a mediator between the user and the Internet. It forwards the user’s web requests and enables data exchange.
Nowadays, anonymity is perhaps one of the main purposes behind using a proxy. Aside from anonymity, Internet security and privacy, proxy servers have other uses as well. For example, they can improve speed and save bandwidth. Moreover, proxies can also control or limit Internet usage within a company.
A mobile proxy acts as a safe gateway to the Internet similar to how a residential proxy does it. Essentially, it’s a single IP address that we get from mobile Internet operators, such as Sprint, T-Mobile, or Vodafone. In contrast to residential proxies, which use home Wi-Fi and broadband ISPs, a mobile proxy uses mobile data.
What are 4G Proxies?
Essentially, a 4G proxy is one of the few names we use to refer to mobile proxies. A certified mobile operator provides us with a 4G proxy IP address.
We can use these proxies to emulate access the Internet through mobile devices, like your smartphone, for example. The connection speed depends on the mobile ISP.
Most proxy providers out there give the user a data center IP address. However, these IP addresses are likely to get banned or blocked by Instagram, Netflix, and other similar websites. Of course, other providers offer data center IPs that are harder to detect and block, such as dedicated virgin IPs for custom packages, such as Instagram proxy or Craigslist proxy packages.
Because some clients have found ways to abuse data center proxies, certain Internet services had to resort to high-level scrutiny of such IPs. With the help of special software, they can block a variety of subnets just by accessing one IP block.
Fortunately, 4G proxies aren’t examined as thoroughly as residential IPs. Moreover, it is not easy to set up that kind of infrastructure, which is why proxy providers rarely offer that option.
The mobile ISP assigns its proxy IPs at random, using a variety of non-proxy IP addresses that other customers use. As a result, it eliminates the possibility of a subnet-wide ban.
How Are Mobile Proxies Created?
As we’ve mentioned earlier, using a commercial IP to collect data or simply access a website can often result in the IP getting banned. Proxy providers can help us overcome this problem by offering mobile residential IPs.
Creating a vast number of mobile proxies is not easy, as we’ve discussed above. However, a proxy network can do that by working with app developers.
Basically, an app developer makes the following deal with a proxy provider. Whenever a user downloads their app, they agree to certain TOS (terms of service). They may download the app for free, but they become a peer and provide their IPs on the proxy network.
Then, the proxy network can use their device’s actual IP address as a residential or mobile proxy – depending if the device is connected to WiFi or mobile data.
It’s worth mentioning that, this is in no way harmful to the user, as the network only uses their device while it’s idle, has enough power, and is connected to the Internet — as specified by Luminati.
The app developer can monetize their app and generate revenue from this partnership. On the other hand, the mobile proxy provider gets a massive pool of non-proxy, real IP addresses. These IPs can then be used as mobile proxies and offered to the network’s clients.
3 Key Features of Mobile Proxies
1. Mobile ISP
Even though we get residential and mobile proxies from the same residential proxy providers, there is a subtle difference. As we’ve mentioned earlier, mobile proxies use mobile data to operate instead of Wi-Fi. Therefore, mobile carriers such as AT&T, Vodafone, and T-Mobile can offer us access to an almost endless number of IPs.
2. Rotating IPs
While the proxy’s back-connect IP doesn’t change, the mask-IP changes on every request. The back-connect IP receives a request and then forwards it to the mobile IPs. As a result, your real IP address is masked behind a mobile ISP’s connection. Thus, there is less chance of your IP getting banned. Moreover, we can avoid website limits and access to geo-blocked content.
3. Bandwidth Pricing
Mobile proxy users have an entire proxy network at their disposal. Because of that, we can use as many IPs as we want. However, such a commodity comes with a price. Namely, the pricing is based on data use. That means that the more data we transfer, the higher the price.
How Do Mobile Proxies Work?
1. Connect to a Back-Connect Proxy
Essentially, a back-connect proxy is a server that uses a group of residential proxies. It uses one, then moves to the other after some time. That way, the mask IP is much harder to detect, and the user gets a more private and anonymous connection. Still, it is as convenient and user-friendly as a regular one.
2. Mobile IPs Refresh on Every Request
When we click a certain website, the request first goes through a number of mobile devices. Of course, we are free to choose the location of these devices. With each new request we make, the IP changes. If we wish, we can hold onto the same IP for a longer period of time, usually, not longer than a couple of minutes.
3. Gateway Country or ISP Control
In the above paragraph, we briefly mentioned that we can choose the location of proxy devices we want to use. That means that we can use proxies from different countries. Not only that, but we also have the choice of different ISPs. That way, we get a granular control over the IPs used.
6. Difference Between Data Center, Residential, and Mobile Proxies
To understand the difference between these three types of proxy IPs, we first need to define dedicated and shared IPs. A dedicated IP is tied to one user or site only, which means other users don’t have access to it. Moreover, a user with a dedicated IP has full control over its reputation. On the other hand, a shared IP is, as the name suggests, an IP that multiple users or sites can use.
In that sense, data center proxies are dedicated IPs. And, if used correctly, websites can never block them – thus, becoming a great asset for anybody knowing to use them. However, if a particular website flags the fixed IP, it will block it and render it unusable. Another important difference is that data center proxies are not owned by an Internet service provider, like their residential or mobile counterparts.
Unlike data center proxies, you get a residential proxy from your ISP. And similar to residential proxies, mobile proxies are also ISP-owned. However, the ISP is a mobile carrier, in this case.
The major difference is that residential and mobile proxy IPs are not own by the proxy providers. Whereas, dedicated private proxies are fully controlled by their proxy manager. In essence, residential and mobile proxies are “rented” from other users.
The setup is as follows:
- Users install an app on their device (such as Hola VPN – or other apps)
- This app acts as a proxy node, accepting connections from the proxy network
- The customers of the prox network send requests to a back-connect proxy
- The back-connect proxy receives the requests and forwards them to any available device that has a proxy node on it
- The request reaches the device on which the app was installed and forwards the requests to the desired websites. Hence, websites see only the IP address of the device (proxy node), not the IP address of the proxy’s customer.