European internet providers have seen a massive spike in data traffic in recent days. The rapid increase, caused by more countries locking down and users streaming content online, is forcing the European Union to take action.
EU industry chief Thierry Breton started discussions with streaming platforms this week, urging them to help reduce the load on the internet, and some companies have started taking actions.
Netflix first announced it will be reducing the bitrate of its streams for 30 days in Europe (via The Guardian). The streaming service hopes to lower its network traffic by 25% by reducing the bitrate of its streams, which will reduce the quality of streams.
“Social distancing measures to fight the coronavirus have led to increased demand for internet capacity be it for teleworking, e-learning or entertainment purposes,” said Breton. “I welcome the very prompt action that Netflix has taken to preserve the smooth functioning of the internet during the Covid-19 crisis while maintaining a good experience for users. [Netflix CEO] Mr Hastings has demonstrated a strong sense of responsibility and solidarity. We’ll keep closely in touch to follow the evolution of the situation together,” he added.
YouTube is now also following suit, and the video streaming service will also temporarily switch all traffic in the European Union to standard definition by default. YouTube announced the move after Breton spoke with Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, reports Reuters.