Netflix, YouTube reduces video quality in Europe to avoid internet collapse

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Netflix and Youtube will lower the streaming quality of videos in Europe to prevent the internet from crashing due to high volume of usage amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

Video streaming service provider Netflix and video sharing platform YouTube are reducing the video streaming quality for at least the next month in Europe to keep the internet from collapsing due to the massive surge in usage due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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

Meanwhile, a spokesperson from YouTube owner Google stated: “We will continue working with member state governments and network operators to minimize stress on the system, while also delivering a good user experience.”

The announcements from both companies follow calls from European Union (EU) officials for streaming services and individual users to halt high definition video streaming to prevent the internet from collapsing.

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European Commissioner Thierry Breton spoke with Netflix chief executive officer (CEO) Reed Hastings about the strain video streaming was placing on networks.

In a statement released on Thursday, Breton argued that streaming platforms, telecom operators and users “all have a joint responsibility to take steps to ensure the smooth functioning of the internet during the battle against the virus propagation.”

According to the Commission, there has been a sharp increase in internet usage but no outages or adverse effects have been reported yet.

Lise Fuhr, director general of the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association, explained: “At this stage, new traffic patterns are being effectively handled by engineers as per standard network operations. We support the European Commission’s effort to ensure that national governments and national regulators have all the tools they need to keep networks strong across the continent.”

However, some companies have assured that they can handle the increased internet traffic.

Howard Watson, chief technology and information officer for BT Group, claimed that the company “has more than enough capacity” in its UK network. He said: “Even if the same heavy data traffic that we see each evening were to run throughout the daytime, there is still enough capacity for work applications to run simultaneously.”

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg also said his company’s US network is prepared to manage the traffic. Vestberg claimed: “So far (we’re seeing) no congestion in the network, we can handle that, we have built a very robust network.”

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