PacketStream Review: Pros & Cons, Features, Ratings, Pricing and more

The residential proxy network

Website screenshot for PacketStream
(Image: © PacketStream)

TechRadar Verdict

The unique, low cost pricing structure is sure to appeal to some, but the lack of support options is a shortcoming not to be ignored.


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    Potential profit

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    Simplified and disruptive pricing structure


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    Limited direct support options

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    Minimal self help support

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    No city or state targeting at present

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    No discount for higher bandwidth use

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    Lacks free trial

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PacketStream was founded in 2014 by CEO Zachary Smith (an unlikely tech leader as he was trained in classical music at Julliard), to be able to offer a new product in an area that gets dominated by the hyperscale clouds, such as Amazon Web services and Google. By creating a peer-to-peer model for residential proxies, a new model was created. It currently has a location in Los Angeles, California. It has grown to offer its over 5,000 clients in excess of 7 million residential proxies. Does this make it the best proxy? We'll take a look...

PacketStream: Features

PacketStream offers a proxy service based solely on residential proxies, which means that there are no mobile proxies, nor are there stable ISP based residential proxies. Rather, it is entirely user based proxies, millions strong that are selling the unused bandwidth on their network connection to PacketStream, who is in turn leasing it back to its user base. Folks that supply a proxy node get their bandwidth measured, and credited back for what the PacketStream users consume. They also claim zero restrictions, and a 99% uptime, realizing that competing services have even higher claimed uptimes.  

By using all of these residential connections, the browsing becomes quite anonymous, which is the advantage of this method. There are many potential uses for such a powerful technology. One example is for a business can view a landing page anonymously, such as for a reseller of its product. Therefore, they can then see if this landing page for the product is accurately representing it, it is appropriately positioned, and also does not have any inappropriate advertising from a competitor, or even worse some type of malware. By verifying all of the preceding, this ensures that they are getting the product positioned as was promised, and this process is known as content verification.

The ability to anonymously browse is a powerful technology with other applications as well. Another example is to gain insight into what a competitor is doing, and not tip them off that you are looking at them. Also, use of a proxy provides a higher level of security than going to a website without this additional layer of protection.

PacketStream: Pricing

While some proxies have complicated tier structures, and plans based on the type of proxy, whether mobile, static or IP based, and the number of proxies that you have use of, PacketStream really has none of this. Rather, it is a far more simplified pricing structure, although this one has a potentially profitable twist that we have not encountered before.

The pricing is based on a single option, of $1/GB. Yes, that’s it, with no mention of a monthly fee, or minimum purchase. At that price point, it is a lot cheaper than most other plans that often charge more in the $8 to $12/GB range depending on the volume. Still, we would like to see a discount for higher volume users, but this is a low fixed price point no matter how much data gets used. We also did not find any free trial period.

The twist is that there is an opportunity through PacketStream to turn your network connection into profit. Here, you can share your residential IP so others can use it as a proxy, and they will pay you at the rate of $0.10/GB (hence we can see how they can resell it at a higher rate). While that may sound like a profitable idea, when we checked on the Terms of Service for our ISP, Optimum Online, we found “Subscriber shall not use Services for any commercial purpose,” and also “Subscriber shall not intercept, receive or assist in the interception or receipt of, resell, distribute or duplicate any Services.” Therefore, with a residential connection, about the best we could say is that depending on your ISP, we would be less than enthusiastic for sharing our connection with a proxy given what our research found.

PacketStream: Support

Support for PacketStream is definitely less than robust. To contact the company, the only method that we found is via email, which at least they have segregated into sales and service. Beyond that, there is no direct phone number, no fax, no chat, and no support portal. We also are not told the hours and days of operation, so we are not sure how fast any queries are responded to. There is an address for the Los Angeles office so you could send a snail mail, but nobody wants to do support that way.

Self help can sometimes make up for a dearth of direct support options. Unfortunately, not in PacketStream’s case. We did not find any searchable database, articles, whitepapers, ebooks, community forum. What we did encounter was a blog, with the most recent article “Utilizing PacketStream’s Residential Proxies to Monitor You and Your Competitor’s Website’s Search Engine Rankings” with a publish date of September 30, 2019, which indicated to us that it is not updated regularly. We also did find a FAQ with some info on some common questions, but most of the answers are only a few sentences in length, or even shorter.

PacketStream: Final verdict

PacksetStream offers a unique entry into the proxy space. We are impressed at its pricing via a single tier of plan that it could be considered disruptive to competitors, and the potential for others to profit by selling their residential internet connection. At the same time, we are concerned by the limited support options, that the terms of service for our ISP would suggest to not resell it, and that the blog was last updated four years ago. Still, for a business with a limited budget, at this cost, PacketStream is worth a trial.

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Jonas P. DeMuro

Jonas P. DeMuro is a freelance reviewer covering wireless networking hardware.