Tuesday, 24 Mar, 12.00 am Voice & Data

Netflix, Prime and 10 other video streaming service providers instructed to slow bitrate speed

Work from home maybe is doable, but what to do with bored kids and teens at home? As they face lockdown owing to COVID-19, and as the quarantine measures to prevent its spread intensify, video streaming services is their best and preferred option for entertainment. Video streaming majors like Hotstar, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Zee5 and others have spruced up their content offerings understanding the current demand.

In the past week, it has been observed that consumption of digital content has gone up manifold in India. This is jamming and congesting networks. The Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) had observed that the sudden surge in digital use was putting pressure on the existing network infrastructure of the telecom service providers. COAI in view of this had written to the government urging issuance of instructions to streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and others to initiate measures that will ease pressure on network infrastructure, which is otherwise needed for "critical" functions at this juncture. As home internet is critical for 'work from home' individuals, the network management by ISPs and CSPs need to be redesigned.

COAI's request to streaming providers as below:

We understand that there are various measures that the streaming platform companies can
undertake in this present situation to continue to provide a suitable level of service to their
customers at the most appropriate bitrate required, one such measure being temporarily moving to
SD (Standard Definition) rather than HD (Hi Definition) streaming. We understand that there may be
other such technical measures that may be taken to ease the pressure on infrastructure. Also, during
this period, advertisements and pop ups, which usually consume high bandwidth should be removed
and if required, may be replaced with public announcements on awareness regarding the virus.

More than 10 video streaming services - Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Hotstar, Sun NXT, Voot, Hoichoi, Zee5, Viuclip, AltBalaji, and SonyLiv - have all been instructed to reduce their streaming bitrates. So, don't be surprised if the video you are watching, over data, buffers.

A few reports by PTI has indicated that Netflix and Amazon Prime have expressed their support for the need to ensure telecom service providers to handle the increased internet demand and the companies have already begun the effort to reduce streaming bitrates whilst maintaining a quality streaming experience. Hotstar has said that the company's video streaming is based on adaptive bitrate streaming, which ensures that it is 'lean' in the internet consumption. However, Hotstar, understanding the current situation, might reduce the bitrate for its HD streams, should the need arise.

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