COVID-19: Indian telecom group asks Netflix and others to stop high definition streaming
26 March, 2020, 22:32
YouTube, Netflix and Facebook are reducing bit rates for videos on their platforms in India as part of their efforts to help mitigate mobile and broadband network congestion amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Hotstar, Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, Google and others jointly agree to switch transmission to standard definition, at bitrates no higher than 480pVideo streaming apps like Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video and Tiktok have suspended transmission of high definition (HD) and ultra-high definition (UHD/4K) content on mobile networks during the 21-day lockdown period.
Consumption of digital content has gone up manifold as people are forced to stay indoors as nearly the entire country is under lockdown to contain the spread of the deadly COVID-19.
"Given the global nature of this crisis, we are expanding that change [to default to SD video] globally starting today", the internet giant said.
The move, announced just recently, would see platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video shift their content to standard definition (SD) for users browsing on mobiles. "As a result, the government and the telecom operators are concerned about its potential impact on the cellular network infrastructure", the joint statement said. "So consumers should continue to get the quality that comes with their plan - whether it's Ultra-High, High or Standard Definition", Netflix VP Content Delivery Ken Florance said in an emailed statement.
Sony, Google, Facebook, Viacom18, MX Player, Hotstar, Zee, Tiktok and Netflix have also made a decision to transmit only standard definition (SD) content to reduce load on cellular networks till April 14.
The Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) has written to their government the urging issuance of instructions to streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video amongst plenty of others to begin the measures that will help in easing mitigation in the network as it proves to be critical. Homegrown OTT platforms including Disney's Hotstar, Times Internet's MX Player and Zee5 will also be working to implement similar measures, TechCrunch reported.
The reduction in video quality will preserve bandwidth and put less load on networks.