The European Union has asked Netflix to slow streaming speeds in order to reduce network bandwidth now that millions of people have committed to staying home to flatten the infection curve of COVID-19 in what could be a prelude to a similar move in the United States.
European Commissioner Thierry Breton tweeted Wednesday night that he spoke with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings about lowering the service’s streaming speeds. It’s part of an effort to encourage people and companies to switch back to standard definition, instead of high definition (let alone ultra-crisp 4K), when it’s not necessary in order to keep the pipelines flowing to all. The request raises the possibility of streaming content reverting to 20th century-level picture quality during the crisis in some areas.
Netflix currently uses “adaptive streaming” which automatically adjusts picture quality based on a network’s capacity. The company has also distributed hubs of its content on servers worldwide so shows can be delivered locally and quickly rather than all steaming from one central source. In other words, Netflix has already taken steps to not be a bandwidth hog, though because of those steps we could see streaming quality reduced in some areas during the crisis regardless of whether the U.S. asks streamers like Netflix to scale back.
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.
— Thierry Breton (@ThierryBreton) March 18, 2020
MacDailyNews Take: Alright, that’s enough. We can put up with just about anything – except standard definition! Oh, the humanity!!!
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]