EU Urges Netflix, YouTube to Consider Limiting Stream Quality to Ease Strain on Networks Amid Surge in Remote Working

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The European Union has called on Netflix, YouTube and other streaming services to consider temporarily reducing streaming quality in a bid to ease the strain on the continent's broadband networks, as tens of millions of people start working from home amid the coronavirus pandemic (via Financial Times).


The EU said streaming platforms should consider offering only standard definition programming rather than high-definition, while individual users should pay attention to their data consumption.

Thierry Breton, a European commissioner in charge of digital policy, said streaming platforms and telecoms companies had a "joint responsibility to take steps to ensure the smooth functioning of the internet."

Responding to the call, a Netflix spokesperson acknowledged the potential issue, but pointed to the existing tools it already provides to ISPs that allow them to store its library closer to customers, thereby easing some of the burden on the internet's backbone.
"Commissioner Breton is right to highlight the importance of ensuring that the internet continues to run smoothly during this critical time," the company spokesperson said. "We've been focused on network efficiency for many years, including providing our open connect service for free to telecommunications companies."

Netflix's "adaptive streaming" technology also adjusted the resolution of a video according to available bandwidth in the home or local area, they added.

YouTube declined to comment.
According to FT, there are growing worries that domestic broadband connections, which were designed to cope only with evening surges in traffic, may not be able to handle long days of adults engaging in video conferencing and children taking online classes or logging on to play games or watch movies.

EU net neutrality laws prohibit the throttling of entertainment services, but several telecoms executives from across the continent have suggested a co-operative plan to safeguard the system was possible.

Italy, one of the countries worst hit by the pandemic, has seen a threefold increase in video teleconferencing, but this has had to compete with streaming and gaming - a combination that resulted in a 75 percent rise in home broadband traffic and mobile networks over the weekend.

Meanwhile, the Spanish telecoms industry has issued a warning urging consumers to ration their internet usage by streaming and downloading more in off-peak hours. It also asked people to consider using landlines for voice calls.

On Tuesday, U.K. mobile networks suffered severe outages after the number of voice calls rose by 30 per cent and overloaded the system, leaving hundreds of thousands of customers unable to connect calls to people on other mobile networks.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) permitted Verizon, T-Mobile, and US Cellular to temporarily use additional spectrum to meet increased broadband demand.

Article Link: EU Urges Netflix, YouTube to Consider Limiting Stream Quality to Ease Strain on Networks Amid Surge in Remote Working
 

laz232

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Feb 4, 2016
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This entirely misses the point that networks are designed for these existing evening peaks and normal daytime traffic is well below this peak.

At least in the UK we should have no issue with daytime traffic.
There is difference between bandwidth and latency. Remote desktop and videoconf are med BW, but need low latency. Whereas streaming is high BW, but accepts high latency.
This is actually an interesting case against net neutrality
 

M.PaulCezanne

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Mar 5, 2014
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This is a common sense, proactive solution.

The sky is falling. People are dying. We need such solutions - not more of the complacent, irresponsible skepticism the White House has shown, particularly since nothing’s at stake but your ability to be entertained.

Think I’m panicking? Don’t take my word for it - take it from an NYC ER doctor: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/19/opinion/coronavirus-doctor-new-york.html
 
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I7guy

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This is a common sense, proactive solution.

The sky is falling. People are dying. We need such solutions - not more of the complacent, irresponsible skepticism the White House has shown, particularly since nothing’s at stake but your ability to be entertained.

Think I’m panicking? Don’t take my word for it - take it from an NYC ER doctor: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/19/opinion/coronavirus-doctor-new-york.html
What does the article ( and mist of post) have to do with the premise of this discussion?

At least the EU didn’t say “shut ‘em down”
 
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lionel77

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Sep 15, 2006
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EU net neutrality laws prohibit the throttling of entertainment services, but several telecoms executives from across the continent have suggested a co-operative plan to safeguard the system was possible.
This statement in the article is incorrect. Internet providers in the EU have been doing QoS throttling for ages, just like everywhere else. What they would not be allowed to do is to selectively throttle for instance Netflix streaming but not Amazon Video streaming.
 

JPSaltzman

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Jun 5, 2011
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My friend in Santa Catarina, Brazil, told me earlier this week that all of the major services (HBO, Netflix, et al) are already doing this in Brazil
 

Rigby

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This entirely misses the point that networks are designed for these existing evening peaks and normal daytime traffic is well below this peak.

At least in the UK we should have no issue with daytime traffic.
Daytime Netflix traffic is most likely sharply increasing as well, since many kids are now staying at home rather than going to school, and more adults are at home during the day too. I now use audio and video conferencing from home extensively for my job, and I do notice that the quality is degraded compared to a week ago (although it's not necessarily clear if the bottleneck is in the backbone, access network, or the conferencing provider's cloud).

In the grand scheme of things, having to watch Netflix in reduced resolution is one of the smaller problems we have right now ...
 
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flygbuss

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Jul 22, 2018
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That makes no sense whatsoever and it’s just another case of panic by the media. The providers and DE-CIX even said, there is no shortage or problem with available bandwidth. You can’t take o2 and Swisscom (who suck anyway) as a good example
You're right, I think it's more of a pro-active decision of what to do in the unlikely case it won't suffice.
 

tmoerel

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Jan 24, 2008
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Don't forget that there are millions of kids at home being bored out of their skulls.....and what are they doing.....watching netflix and youtube crap!!!
 
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oneMadRssn

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Two thoughts:

1. I would think there has been pressure on the local nodes in residential areas. All the internet consumption most of us used to do at the office is now done at home; meaning a lot of traffic has shifted from office buildings with business fiber connections to home connections. So I would bet the the local nodes in the suburbs are struggling. However, some people that had jobs where they didn't use the internet (e.g., cooks, waiters, drivers) are now at home and probably streaming entertainment, putting further pressure on the local nodes in residential areas.

2. This is a good time to roll out more offline streaming capability. Sure the Netflix iPhone app can download some content for offline viewing, and even preemptively to so under certain circumstances, but it isn't as fullsome as it could be. For example, the AppleTV app doesn't do that. It should be possible to download content for offline viewing on the AppleTV app, and then play that content back over the local LAN to the Netflix app on any other device on the network. It should be able to do the downloading at night when there is less strain on the servers.
 
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calzon65

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Jul 16, 2008
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About a week ago I posted wondering if a massive worldwide work from home effort would impact the US and other national networks (i.e., data, voice and SMS networks). There were plenty of folks who said "no way or don't worry", they are totally wrong

And the folks who say "we are using the same amount of traffic just from different locations" don't have a clue what they are talking about. If you take millions of workers who normally work in an office and meet face-to-face with their coworkers but are now forced to work from home using video conferencing that is not the same data usage from a different location. Or the millions of workers who are terminated and now sitting at home watching Netflix when they would have been working during the day.

I work in the US data/voice/SMS industry and we are seeing a huge uptick in our data traffic (VoIP and video ), we are also seeing a huge uptick in switched voice traffic (triggering call incomplete notices ... what consumers hear as a "fast busy"). I'm not saying the national voice and data networks are going to collapse, but there are already indications of a strain.
 
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