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COVID-19: Indian telecom group asks Netflix and others to stop high definition streaming

With people working from home telecom companies are trying to keep bandwidth available for home networks. Now, they have asked video streaming services like Netflix to lower quality so that bandwidth can be saved.

twitter-logoAnkit Kumar | March 24, 2020 | Updated 13:44 IST

Highlights

  • The Cellular Operators Association of India has asked YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar and others to reduce the video quality.
  • The reduction in video quality will preserve bandwidth and put less load on networks.
  • Amazon Prime, Netflix, YouTube and others have already reduced video quality in coronavirus-hit Europe.

Following the pattern in Europe where video streaming services have lowered the streaming quality so that more bandwidth can be used for work for home, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has asked YouTube and OTT platforms including Netflix, Amazon and Hotstar to cut down high bandwidth streaming to reduce a sudden surge in usage due to lockdowns imposed across cities in India.

The association claim that the sudden surge in digital use is already putting pressure on the network infrastructure of the Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) and "TSPs are taking requisite steps to manage this load and facilitate the smooth functioning of the networks during this critical time."

Cellular operators have underlined similar measures being taken by various "streaming platforms in the US and Europe" and asked the streaming services to take similar measures in India.

The operators have also approached the Department of Telecom (DoT) through written communication claiming that measures such as lockdowns and work from home are already "putting pressure on the network infrastructure of the telecom service providers."

The operators have informed the DoT about their already request to the streaming platforms to undertake technical measures to ease the pressure on infrastructure and requested DoT to pass a similar communication to the OTT platforms.

Earlier Netflix announced that it would cut traffic by 25 per cent on networks across Europe in a relief measure for internet service providers (ISPs). According to Netflix, "watching TV shows or movies on Netflix uses about 1 GB of data per hour for each stream of standard definition video, and up to 3 GB per hour for each stream of HD video."

Hours later, Amazon Prime, YouTube and Apple TV+ announced similar measures. In a statement to media, YouTube said, we are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default. This means the default resolution for YouTube in most European regions is going to be 480P for a while, although users will still have the option to choose higher quality from the drop-down menu.

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