Netflix, a global video-on-demand service, is set to reduce its streaming bitrate for African users to ease internet capacity during lockdowns. This is aimed at preventing the internet collapsing under the strain of unprecedented usage due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are challenges that accompany lockdowns such as surging internet traffic due to social distancing and self-isolation policies. With more people working and studying from home, the internet’s underlying infrastructure is expected to face “an enormous stress test,” industry analysts have told CNN. Even some of the biggest tech platforms are now grappling with a greater challenge in keeping their services up and running amid surging demand.

“Given the crisis, we’ve developed a way to reduce Netflix’s traffic on telecommunications networks by 25 percent while also maintaining the quality of our service. So consumers should continue to get the quality that comes with their plan – whether it’s Ultra-High, High or Standard Definition,” Netflix Vice-President of Content Delivery Ken Florance said. It is also expected that the company provides significant relief to the congested network which would be deployed to African countries within the next 30 days.

According to an official statement, the world is currently in crisis, hence, it is the responsibility of everyone to fight against this pandemic in their capacity. This is why it developed, tested and deployed a way to reduce Netflix’s traffic on these networks by 25 percent – starting with Italy and Spain, where the company was experiencing the biggest impact.

“Since we started making these changes we’ve had a number of questions from members and our Internet Service Provider (ISP) partners. Our members have asked what this means in terms of video quality. Put simply the action we’ve taken maintains the full range of video resolutions. So whether you paid for Ultra-High Definition (UHD), High Definition (HD), or Standard Definition (SD), that is what you should continue to get depending on the device you are using,” the statement read. 

Last week, the European Union directed companies like Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube to ensure using telecommunications networks as efficiently as possible given the unprecedented demand they are facing. 

In this regard, YouTube also announced plans to reduce video quality worldwide to ease the strain on the internet. In a statement, the streaming service said the move is meant “to do our part to minimize stress on the system during this unprecedented situation.”

By Ahmed Iyanda.

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