Networks can’t take the strain – streaming giants to throttle HD viewing

Networks can’t take the strain – streaming giants to throttle HD viewing

Paranoia is in the air, and self-isolation is the order of the day, the week, the month, and just possibly, the entire year – or longer.

People are staying home to avoid becoming ill, and to avoid spreading the dreaded disease to other people including elderly relatives.

Schools are closed down indefinitely from this afternoon, business are rolling down their roller blinds, and while its not illegal to go to pubs and restaurants in the UK, it’s highly discouraged, borderline foolish, and may actually be illegal soon.

So what are the housebound supposed to do in a time of quarantine?

Sure, you could write a novel, but you’re not going to.

Yeah. That’s not happening

Computer games are fun for a while, but you’ve already played everything you own to death.

Most people will fill their time by watching TV, and in 2020, TV means streaming through Netflix and Amazon Prime. Even the euphemistically named Netflix and chill needs Netflix.

But broadband networks have limited capacity, and that capacity is being rapidly consumed by people binging Brooklyn 99, Fringe, or American Horror Story when they would otherwise be at work.

Vodafone, which provides both mobile and fixed line services, reported a 50% rise in internet use in Europe earlier this week. That will go up as more and more people lock themselves indoors.

The phat pipes are getting thinner.

The system is under strain, and to help out, streaming pioneer and market leader, Netflix, is reducing the quality of its service to home users.

The move came after discussions between Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market and Reed Hastings Netflix chief executive.

HD streams, which use in the region of 3GB per hour will be downgraded to standard def, which take up around one third of the bandwidth.

Other providers are expected to follow suit, despite assertions from BT (formerly known as British Telecom) that their system has plenty of capacity.

The company has not yet said whether subscribers who pay extra for the higher definition service will be refunded.

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