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Streaming Services Lower Bitrates to Conserve Bandwidth

Companies including YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon are all reducing the quality of their video streams to ease internet congestion. This is a response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to an increase in the number of people working from home.
More People Are Working From Home
With the number of cases of COVID-19 on the rise, many countries around the world are enacting lockdowns. This means that businesses are closed and people are asked to work from home. Which is putting an incredible strain on internet services providers.
The big problem is not the people working from home, but the people who cannot work from home. As, without the option to leave the house, they’re binge-watching YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. Which is understandable, but isn’t helpful for remote workers.
Streaming Services Conserve Bandwidth
This led the European Commission to ask Netflix et al to reduce the quality of video streams across Europe to help free up bandwidth for telecommuters. And YouTube, Amazon, and Netflix have all agreed to do so, at least on a temporary basis.

Netflix to cut European traffic by 25% due to coronavirus – Reuters https://t.co/R91ab5gjxw A stark admission that European networks cannot handle extra coronavirus-related traffic.
I’m expecting a similar development in the US shortly.
— Mike Dano (@mikeddano) March 19, 2020

Netflix was the first to act, committing to “reducing bitrates across all of its streams in Europe for 30 days”. The company expects this to reduce its traffic on European networks by around 25 percent without making its streams unwatchable.
YouTube followed suit, promising to “temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default.” Again, this is initially for a period of 30 days, but with no sign of the pandemic ending anytime soon, this is bound to be extended.
Amazon then came on board, declaring that it had “already begun the effort to reduce streaming bitrates whilst maintaining a quality streaming experience for our customers.” And we suspect other streaming services will take similar measures.
Helpful Advice for New Remote Workers
This is currently only affecting Europe, where countries are being locked down to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, the US is heading the same way, and so the streaming services are likely to take similar measures there as and when needed.
If you’re one of the lucky ones able to work from home then be sure to check out our remote working hub. It’s packed full of helpful advice and resources for telecommuters everywhere. And it’s especially useful for people new to working from home.
Image Credit: Tristan Schmurr/Flickr
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