YouTube temporarily suspended Hi-Def streaming by lowering quality to standard levels to lighten the load of data that travels over Internet networks. The announcement came from Google — owner of the social network — and from Thierry Breton, the E.U. Commissioner for Digital.
Similarly, Netflix reduced the quality of its services in Europe for 30 days. The move aims to prevent networks from being overloaded at a time when people are confined due to the coronavirus. “We believe that lowering the bitrate will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25 percent while ensuring good quality of service for our users,” said Netflix, in a statement released by the European Commission. The decision comes after Breton asked online content platforms to broadcast in standard quality and not in high definition to “prevent Internet congestion.”
For the European Commission, an abnormal distribution of traffic will put a strain on the internet infrastructure at a time when it is needed for health services, online teaching and other uses. Vodafone recorded an increase in data traffic on its networks due to the coronavirus crisis, with demand growing by 50 percent in some markets. A telecom operator in the Lombardy region of Italy (most affected by the coronavirus) recorded an increase in data traffic on its Internet network of about 35 percent on average, with peaks of up to 50 percent. Online gaming registered a 90 percent bandwidth increase, a 30 percent increase from video streaming, and a 80 percent increase for social networks, all due to the remote working that grew by 40 percent.