Netflix agrees to temporarily show content in SD to ease network loads | Infrastructure | News | Rapid TV News
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SVOD leader Netflix has agreed to appeals from the European Commission to lessen the load on Europe’s residential networks which are seeing unprecedented usage as millions work at home in order to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus.
Netflix Spain TV UI 19march2020 2
On 18 March, European Commissioner for internal markets Thierry Breton revealed that he had been in contact with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to ask for the subscription video-on-demand service to end broadcasting content in high-definition and switch to the substantially less network intensive SD. Explaining the purpose of his actions, Commissioner Breton said “teleworking and streaming help lot but infrastructures might be in a strain. To secure Internet access for all, let’s #SwitchToStandard definition Internet when HD is not necessary.”

Now, according to reports in Variety Magazine, Netflix has agreed to cut its bit rates for a period of 30 days to ease the load. In a statement to the magazine, the SVOD leader said: “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. We estimate that this will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25% while also ensuring a good quality service for our members.”

Europe’s operators have been divided as to what the effect on networks the added millions would have. In Spain, in an unprecedented joint statement, the nation’s leading operators appealed that rational and responsible use of the networks would allow all stakeholders, such as service providers, companies and individuals, to ensure that the nation had a quality communication ecosystem that was sustainable over time, in the face of a scenario of increased work and remote schooling that may last several weeks.

By contrast, the UK’s leading network providers BT and Virgin expressed confidence that their networks would be capable of enduring any extra overhead from increased home usage. Virgin assured that as usage inevitably rose, its existing capacity would be able to take the strain and that it was monitoring closely on network issues and that it was ready to make changes if needed. BT was also confident that it could accommodate millions more people working from home, and said that after analysing business network traffic on both its core and the access networks provided by its Openreach division, it had the capacity to cope.

Assessing the issue and what needed to be done to ensure how streaming services could adapt their delivery networks to continue to serve customers and offer quality experiences, Lars Larsson, CEO of Varnish Software said: “streaming HD video requires a lot of bandwidth and high volumes of concurrent users can cause significant peaks in network traffic. With the entire internet experiencing an unprecedented surge in activity, streaming services can alleviate some of the pressure on networks by switching to SD. This will mean there is less traffic going across ISP’s networks, and also means each streaming server has to handle less data and can therefore serve even more users at once.

“In the longer term, CSPs will be building out their 5G networks to facilitate content caching at the edge of the network. This will mean requests can be handled and dealt with closer to the end user which puts much less strain on the core network, speeding the internet up for everyone.”