Netflix
Netflix

Netflix will reduce Australian traffic

Netflix has agreed to reduce its bit rate in Australia in an effort to ease streaming traffic on the local network in response to increased demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With more people working from home, and children not at school, Netflix has said it will reduce the bit rate on its streams. It follows a similar move in Europe.

Netflix vice president of content delivery, Ken Florance, said in a statement: "Given the crisis, we've developed a way to reduce Netflix's traffic on telecommunications networks by 25 per cent, while also maintaining the quality of our service."

Mr Florance confirmed that the changes won't affect the quality of streams so customers signed up to high-definition or 4K plans should still expect to see the same level of quality on thir streams.

"We believe this will provide significant relief to congested networks and we will be deploying it in Australia for the next 30 days," Mr Florance added.

The implementation is expected to commence tonight.

Previously, the federal minister for communications, Paul Fletcher, said he had asked streaming platforms including Netflix and Stan to look into how they could lessen their load on Australian internet networks given the restrictions put in place to respond to coronavirus means there are many more people at home.

Last week, Netflix and YouTube said they will reduce the default image quality of streaming video in Europe to ease pressure on the internet, the firms said Friday, as demand soars with millions confined to their homes over coronavirus fears.

EU commissioner for the digital economy Thierry Breton urged internet giants to switch from high definition to the former standard definition to reduce file sizes while stranded householders seek entertainment as well as news about the epidemic.

Late Thursday, entertainment platform Netflix agreed, and on Friday Google's video-sharing service YouTube said it would follow suit, although videos viewed on the site from a European connection on Friday by AFP were still defaulting to high definition mode.

"While we have seen only a few usage peaks, we have measures in place to automatically adjust our system to use less network capacity," a Google spokesman said.

"Following the discussion between Google's CEO, Sundar Pichai, YouTube's CEO Susan Wojcicki and Commissioner Thierry Breton we are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to Standard Definition by default."

Separately, Netflix will "begin reducing bit rates across all our streams in Europe for 30 days," a spokesman for the streaming giant said in a statement.

"We estimate that this will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25 per cent while also ensuring a good quality service for our members," the statement added.

With wide-ranging lockdowns and quarantines, schools, shops and borders closed and gatherings banned, people across Europe are increasingly turning to the internet to stave off boredom.

But the huge file sizes of high definition offerings from web giants like Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, HBO and Amazon are slowing the web, Breton warned.

"Teleworking and streaming help a lot but infrastructures might be in strain," he said in a tweet Thursday, calling for online platforms to switch to streaming in standard definition instead of HD.

Gamers breathed a sigh of relief on Wednesday after the end of an hours-long network outage that affected Nintendo's online games and prompted despair from users.

"Only a few days into the coronavirus self-isolation and Nintendo servers are already down … oh dear god," tweeted one.

Originally published as Netflix will reduce Australian traffic



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