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YouTube to Join Netflix in Reducing Stream Quality in Europe to Lessen Strain on Broadband Networks

YouTube to Join Netflix in Reducing Stream Quality in Europe to Lessen Strain on Broadband Networks

YouTube is following the lead of fellow streaming service Netflix and is reducing the quality of its video streams in Europe to ease the strain on broadband networks caused by an increase of in-home usage during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

“We are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default,” the company said in a statement. (Via Reuters)

Standard definition video isn’t as sharp a viewing experience as high definition and may be a bit more pixelated, but they require less data to be transmitted.

YouTube’s move comes on the heels of Netflix’s move on Thursday to comply with a request from the European Union to reduce its streaming quality in Europe to ease the strain the increased streaming and millions of folks working from home have placed on European broadband networks during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Netflix said it will reduce the bitrate of its streams for 30 days.

The EU had asked Netflix, YouTube, and other streaming services to temporarily reduce their streaming quality due to the unusually large number of people working from home and also bingeing on video streams as they’re sheltered in place.

The EU wants the streaming services to limit their content streams to standard definition instead. of the usual high-def streams they provide, and it is also hoping viewers will also work to reduce their data consumption.

Telecom giant Vodafone reported a 50% rise in internet use in Europe earlier this week.

U.K. internet service provider BT told BBC News that its broadband infrastructure has plenty of “headroom” to cope with increased demand as more people stay home due to coronavirus. The company says that while daytime traffic on its network had increased by between 35-60%, daytime and evening usage was still much lower than the highest levels it had ever recorded.

“The additional load… is well within manageable limits and we have plenty of headroom for it to grow still further,” said a BT spokesperson.

Although Vodafone and TalkTalk, which also provide mobile and broadband services to UK users, gave similar assurances to the BBC, Tuesday saw all U.K. mobile networks suffered severe outages after the number of voice calls rose by 30% and overloaded the system

YouTube has followed Netflix’s lead and hasn’t announced whether the bitrate reduction will be applied in other countries such as the United States, but U.S. internet providers haven’t as yet requested such a reduction.

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