The Coronavirus pandemic has seen an increase in demand for the internet in many countries around the world. With many people working from home trying to stream high definition video meetings during the day and many people trying to stream in home entertainment at the same time, there has been some pressure on internet networks worldwide to maintain the high demand. In an attempt to alleviate this pressure, some of the world’s largest streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have agreed to lower the bit rates on their streams to help with network congestion.
The streaming giants announced these changes first for European countries that have had ongoing internet problems during the outbreak. These changes to the online bit rates that Europe has seen recently implemented have now been announced as coming to Australia very soon. Ken Florance, VP of Content Delivery at Netflix says “We believe this will provide significant relief to congested networks and we will be deploying it in Australia for the next 30 days”
A spokesperson for Amazon Prime said “Prime Video is working with local authorities, mobile service providers and internet service providers where needed to help mitigate any network congestion, including in Australia where we’ve already begun the effort to reduce streaming bitrates while maintaining a quality streaming experience for our customers”
In terms of video quality for customers of streaming platforms following these changes, Ken Florance, VP of Content Delivery at Netflix says “Put simply the action we’ve taken maintains the full range of video resolutions. So whether you paid for Ultra-High Definition (UHD), High Definition (HD), or Standard Definition (SD), that is what you should continue to get (depending on the device you are using).”
In Europe YouTube has committed to switching video quality to standard definition as default, but there has been no mention of this change coming to Australia.