YouTube and Netflix to reduce streaming quality to stop internet from breaking

YouTube and Netflix have said they will reduce the streaming quality of videos to avoid straining the internet due to the unprecedented usage during the coronavirus pandemic.

Millions of people are working from home across the European Union in order to tackle the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, which is now confirmed to have infected more than 244,000 people worldwide.

“Streaming platforms, telecom operators and users… have a joint responsibility to take steps to ensure the smooth functioning of the internet during the battle against the virus propagation,” the EU’s markets and services commissioner, Thierry Breton, said yesterday.

In a statement, YouTube said it was complying with the commissioner’s request for a month: “We are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default.”

A spokesperson for Netflix said the company was also acknowledging Mr Breton’s concerns.

“We estimate that this will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25% while also ensuring a good quality service for our members,” they added.

Despite Mr Breton’s request, internet service providers have not reported a sharp increase in peak traffic – although peak times, normally between six and nine in the evening, are beginning much earlier.

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None have also expressed concern about the capacities of their networks being maxed out.

Although video streaming makes up a large proportion of all data usage on the internet, technical advances have reduced how expensive it is for networks to send this data to users.

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