Streaming giant Netflix has temporarily limited network bandwidth in Europe by 25% amid a surge in demand for its streamable content as millions in the region are quarantined because of coronavirus.
“Following the discussions between Commissioner Thierry Breton and Reed Hastings — and given the extraordinary challenges raised by the coronavirus — Netflix has decided to begin reducing bit rates across all our streams in Europe for 30 days,” a Netflix spokesperson was quoted by Variety as saying. “We estimate that this will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25% while also ensuring a good quality service for our members.”
The move comes after a conversation between the European Union Commissioner Thierry Breton and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. The two have been in talks over the past two days.
CEO Reed Hastings on March 18th, Breton tweeted: “Important phone conversation with @ReedHastings, CEO of @Netflix To beat #COVID19, we #StayAtHome Teleworking & streaming help a lot but infrastructures might be in strain. To secure Internet access for all, let’s #SwitchToStandard definition when HD is not necessary.”
The “very prompt action” was praised by Breton, who said the move would “preserve the smooth functioning of the internet during the Covid-19 crisis”.
According to The Verge, Netflix determines the best quality of stream for a user to ensure that buffering doesn’t occur. This means that if bandwidth is low, videos are streamed at a lower resolution. However, if everyone is watching content at HD or 4K resolution, infrastructure might be in strain, as noted by Breton.
The decision to limit bandwidth is currently only being implemented in Europe and not in the US or other regions.