22 May 2020
As global Coronavirus outbreak has forced people to be in self-isolation and work from home, ISPs and concerned authorities have started to get worried about the excessive load on internet bandwidth. The reason is that the currently used infrastructure is not meant to handle such a huge surge of users and that too at such a quick pace. As a result, the European Union (EU) has asked major streaming service providers like Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, and Facebook to cut down on the video quality to reduce the load.
Starting with Netflix, the leading streaming platform in the world has announced that it will cut down on the bitrate without making any changes to the video resolution. It means while users with appropriate plans will continue to stream movies/TV shows at Full HD or 4K, they might feel the video playback to be less smooth as compared to before. Netflix says that the decision will lead to a 25% reduction in data consumption.
All other streaming platforms have decided to reduce the video resolution itself. YouTube is reported to have made Standard Definition (SD) as the default video playback resolution in Europe. For the uninitiated ones, SD is 480 pixels resolution which has now become the standard resolution across major streaming service providers including Amazon Prime Video and Disney+.
Facebook has also announced its decision to reduce video quality on its social media platform as well as Instagram. It has joined video platforms as it is already the biggest social media network and with so many people joining at the same time, the internet bandwidth is expected to take a hit.
Here is the official statement:
"To help alleviate any potential network congestion, we will temporarily reduce bit rates for videos on Facebook and Instagram in Europe. We are committed to working with our partners to manage any bandwidth constraints during this period of heavy demand, while also ensuring people are able to remain connected using Facebook apps and services during the COVID-19 pandemic."