Europe asks Netflix to slow high definition streams to reduce internet strain

Brussels, Mar 19 (efe-epa).- The European Commission asked Netflix on Thursday to restrict high definition streaming to ease internet strain as the coronavirus lockdown sees millions confined to their homes.

Internet demand has increased as many European countries have ordered residents to stay at home in a bid to slow the spread of the pandemic, which emerged in China in December and has since spread around the world.

European Commissioner for internal market Thierry Breton said he had spoken to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to request the entertainment streaming site slows its downloads.

Breton said in a tweet on Thursday that it was an “important phone conversation”.

He added that to beat the virus people need to stay at home but warned: “Teleworking and streaming help a lot but infrastructures might be in strain.

“To secure internet access for all, let’s #SwitchToStandard definition when HD is not necessary,” his tweet continued.

Breton asked audiovisual content platforms to broadcast in standard quality and not in high definition to prevent internet congestion.

“Europe and the whole world are facing an unprecedented situation,” he said in a statement.

“Governments have taken measures to reduce social interactions to contain the spread of Covid-19, and to encourage remote working and online education.

“Streaming platforms, telecom operators and users, we all have a joint responsibility to take steps to ensure the smooth functioning of the internet during the battle against the virus propagation.”

The EC said the increased demand had led to an abnormal distribution of internet traffic that risks putting the infrastructure under stress when people need it more than ever.

Breton said he had asked Netflix to cooperate with telecommunications providers and adapt the performance of video transmission, by temporarily offering standard definition during critical working hours.Brussels has also asked individual users to be responsible in their data consumption for recreational activities, including using wifi instead of mobile internet and choosing the lowest resolutions for streaming and downloads whenever possible.

The Commission said it had established a reporting system to ensure regular monitoring of internet traffic to be able to respond quickly to capacity problems.

It added that the initiatives were designed to maintain an uninterrupted service for users and that Breton will continue to communicate with Netflix in the coming days to find a solution. EFE-EPA


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