As reported by CNN, Netflix has responded to pressure from users in European countries and agreed to reduce the video quality of its streaming content in order to “prevent the internet from breaking”—as CNN puts it. With so many people all over the world practicing social-distancing in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the use of streaming services like Netflix has increased so much that users and European Union officials were concerned that the increased bandwidth use would start to have adverse effects on other internet traffic.
CNN spoke to some people from the tech industry who suggest that something like that isn’t really a major concern, with Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg basically saying “our network is so good that there’s nothing to worry about,” but of course the CEO of Verizon is going to say that. Either way, Netflix agreed that it’s better to be safe than sorry, so it will “reduce the bit rate of all its video streams for 30 days” in Europe. The company says that some people might not notice any difference in video quality, but others may “see a reduction.”
The CNN story goes into how livestreaming video, like from students who are now taking online classes or workers telecommuting into meetings, has a much bigger impact on the proverbial internet pipes than video on something like Netflix or YouTube because the data is handled differently when it’s prerecorded.