Coronavirus: EU asks Netflix to chill

Coronavirus: EU asks Netflix to chill
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Streaming service Netflix has announced that it will reduce streaming speeds in Europe for 30 days to ease pressure on the Internet, its CEO Reed Hastings announced Thursday.

“Netflix has decided to start reducing bitrates on all our streams in Europe for 30 days. We estimate that this will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by approximately 25% while ensuring a good quality service to our members,” Reed Hasting said in a statement.

This measure may affect picture quality for some viewers, according to reports.

Switch to Standard

EU officials had asked streaming platforms to no longer offer HD video in light of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak as the increased internet usage might be too much for internet and wireless networks to handle.

European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton tweeted yesterday that people should not stream in HD when it is not necessary, using the hashtag #SwitchToStandard.

Following the announcement that Netflix would adapt its service, Breton made a follow-up statement praising “the very quick action that Netflix has taken to keep the Internet running smoothly during the COVID19 crisis while maintaining a good experience for users”.

“Hastings has shown a great sense of responsibility and solidarity,” he added.

“Commissioner Breton is right to highlight the importance of ensuring that the internet continues to run smoothly during this critical time,” a spokesperson for Netflix told CNN Business. “We’ve been focused on network efficiency for many years, including providing our open connect service for free to telecommunications companies.”

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Breton’s appeal to reason comes after countries across Europe are taking drastic containment measures, and citizens are being required to stay inside and work from home, which is leading to increased use of the internet and cellular networks. Earlier this week, it was reported that data usage in Belgium had nearly doubled because of people working from home.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times

Update: This story had been updated to reflect the decision by Netflix to reduce speeds in Europe for 30 days.

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