YouTube is the second company after Netflix <NFLX.O> to act
after EU industry chief Thierry Breton urged streaming platforms
to cut the quality of their videos to prevent internet overload.
Videos account for a substantial part of internet traffic data.
The move came after Breton spoke to Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai
and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.
The company said so far it had only seen a few usage peaks but
decided to act to minimize stress on the system.
"We are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in
the EU to standard definition by default," the company said in a
A spokesman said the decision includes Britain and will
initially be for 30 days, subject to review.
Standard definition videos are not as detailed or as sharp as
high definition videos.
"I warmly welcome the initiative that Google has taken to
preserve the smooth functioning of the internet during the
COVID19 crisis," Breton said in a statement.
Europe's telecoms providers, from Vodafone <VOD.L> to Deutsche
Telekom <DTEGn.DE>, have reported a spike in data traffic in
recent days, forcing Breton to issue his pre-emptive call before
the internet breaks down.
Breton wants the internet to be able to cope with crucial
services such as healthcare and online learning by thousands of
house-bound children during the coronavirus outbreak.
Netflix on Thursday said it would reduce bit rates, which
determine the quality and size of its audio and video files,
across all its streams in Europe for 30 days, in effect cutting
its traffic on European networks by around 25%.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman
and Jason Neely)
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