YouTube to reduce streaming quality in Europe due to coronavirus
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[March 20, 2020]
By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc's <GOOGL.O>
YouTube said on Friday it will reduce its streaming quality in the
European Union to avert internet gridlock as thousands of Europeans,
constrained by the coronavirus outbreak, switch to working from home.
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 statement.
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
"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.
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The YouTube app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture
illustration taken September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
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
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