Published in Network

Netflix cuts bandwidth for a month in the EU

by on20 March 2020

Fears of breaking the interwebs

Netflix is cutting back on the bandwidth it takes to stream videos to members in the European Union after a European Commission member voiced concerns over network strain.

The Commission, which issued the pre-emptive warning on Thursday, wants to ensure a level playing field for all, even as it worries that crucial services such as healthcare and online learning for thousands of children may be slowed by traffic congestion.

Netflix apparently met with 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.

"We estimate that this will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25 percent while also ensuring a good quality service for our members."

The European Union is urging Netflix and other streaming platforms to stop showing video in high definition to prevent the internet from breaking under the strain of unprecedented usage due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Breton, who is responsible for the EU internal market covering more than 450 million people, tweeted Wednesday evening that he had spoken with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

He called on people and companies to "#SwitchtoStandard definition when HD is not necessary" in order to secure internet access for all.

“Commissioner Breton is right to highlight the importance of ensuring that the internet continues to run smoothly during this critical time. We've been focused on network efficiency for many years, including providing our open connect service for free to telecommunications companies."

The European Commission has warned Europe’s telecoms providers not to throttle content platforms to prevent internet gridlock caused by house-bound Europeans teleworking or video streaming due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The telecoms industry has reported a spike in data traffic on networks as thousands of people switched to home working or watched endless videos.

Telecoms providers can take measures to prevent gridlock for as long as necessary but must not block, slow down or prioritise traffic, the EU executive said, citing the bloc’s net neutrality rules.

Netflix had over 42 million subscribers in Europe, Africa and the Middle East at the end of the first quarter of 2019, according to a filing, with the bulk estimated to be in Europe.

The Commission said in a joint statement with the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) that while operators are authorised to apply exceptional traffic management measures, “this must be done without discriminating individual content providers”.


Last modified on 20 March 2020
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