Netflix Reduces Streaming Speed In European Union Nations

Has anyone noticed a reduction in Internet speed, especially during the day? Doing speed tests through Ookla, I’m seeing well below the 200mb I’m paying for. Not even getting to 100mbps. Multiple tests on my laptop are getting around 35mbps, phone is getting around 63mbps, and tablet around 45. Interestingly, the first two are on WiFi N, while the table gets WiFi C, which can do half the speed. Upload speeds are a good measure, around 11mbps on all, and usually go to around 15. And it’s just 6:35am. I did not really notice an issue Wednesday, when I was off, at least not while streaming a movie and some TV shows (the Expanse and The Americans). But, in the EU

Netflix to slow down streaming so the internet doesn’t break

In what could be a harbinger of things to come in the United States, Netflix is tapping the breaks on its download speeds in Europe in order to reduce network bandwidth now that millions of people have committed to staying home.

The move is in response to European Commissioner Thierry Breton, who spoke with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings the service reducing its streaming speeds. Breton is encouraging people and companies to switch back to standard definition, instead of high definition (let alone ultra-crisp 4K) in order to keep the bandwidth pipelines flowing to all who need online access during the crisis.

“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,” Netflix said in a statement obtained by EW. “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.”

Previously, Netflix pointed out they use “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. But even with just those existing measures in place we could see streaming quality potentially reduced to standard definition (like 1990s-level picture quality) during the pandemic bandwidth crunch regardless of whether the U.S. likewise asks streamers such as Netflix to scale back.

A double-edged sword. People are stuck at home not working (not everyone is capable of telecommuting) and need entertainment and then have their streaming capability reduced to even standard definition (480i) from high def (720 and 1080). For most things, a slower Internet speed is not going to affect them. Writing posts, playing my escape games, cruising around, etc, doesn’t require much speed. Streaming movies and such? More required. I do have my Firestick cable connected to the router, rather than WiFi, so, runs smoother.

Here in the U.S., carriers have suspended data caps to help people communicate during the outbreak, but our broadband capability is going to be heavily taxed. According to The New York Times, “internet networks are set to be strained to the hilt” with “serious consequences, not just for the performance of our broadband networks but also for student access to education and the security of corporate data and networks.” The U.S. has a strong infrastructure to handle such pressure compared to many other countries, but rural areas, in particular, could experience performance issues.

Much will be dependent on how many are using Internet in your local area and who the carrier is.

I bet a lot of people are missing actual DVDs and Bluerays right now, eh? They don’t buffer. People are going to rediscover Red Box hard if this continues. Of course, when the EU speaks with Netflix, they have the power to force the slowdown. The US federal and state governments do not have that power.

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