Netflix will make video quality WORSE for a month to slash coronavirus binge-watching impact
NETFLIX will slash its streaming quality in Europe for 30 days in a bid to ease the strain on internet service providers during the coronavirus outbreak.
The entertainment giant made the shock decision following calls from a top EU official to block millions of Europeans hunkered down at home this week from watching high definition streams.
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Netflix confirmed to the PA news agency that the measures include the UK.
It comes as people in Britain resort to working from home and self-isolation, while other parts of Europe are subject to lockdowns.
Concerns have been raised that the resulting surge in internet traffic may overload service providers and hamper web speeds across the nation.
Netflix expects the move to cut its European traffic by about 25 per cent but assured users they will still be able to deliver a "good quality service".
It follows a phone call between EU Commissioner Thierry Breton and Netflix boss Reed Hastings in which the politician urged Netflix to downgrade its streaming quality "to secure internet access for all".
A Netflix spokesperson said: "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.
"We estimate that this will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25 per cent while also ensuring a good quality service for our members."
Breton praised Hastings for showing a "strong sense of responsibility and solidarity" on the issue.
"Social distancing measures to fight the Coronavirus lead to increased demand for internet capacity be it for teleworking, e-learning or entertainment purposes," he said.
"I welcome the very prompt action that Netflix has taken to preserve the smooth functioning of the Internet during the Covid-19 crisis while maintaining a good experience for users.
"Mr Hastings has demonstrated a strong sense of responsibility and solidarity.
"We'll keep closely in touch to follow the evolution of the situation together."
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Internet service providers in the UK have insisted they are "ready" to handle extra broadband demand from people at home during the pandemic.
Last week, Andrew Glover, chair of the Internet Services Providers' Association (ISPA), which represents the industry, said: "ISPs are ready to handle any potential extra bandwidth and consistently assess the demands that are being put on their networks."
However, one analyst warned yesterday that it's possible surging demand for home broadband is already affecting people's web speeds.
"The more people that connect to a network at the same time will inevitably put a strain on it and thus reduce the speed," Paolo Pescatore, of PP Foresight, told The Sun.
"This is akin to a motorway; increasing the number of lanes means more cars. However, the more cars on the road will lead everyone to slow down."
"Telcos clearly need to brace themselves for an explosion of traffic over their networks," he added.
"More needs to be done to stabilise the network."
In other news, your internet may be getting slower as the coronavirus outbreak causes a huge surge in web traffic.
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Are you happy with your internet speeds? Let us know in the comments!
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