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Netflix to reduce traffic on telecom networks by 25 pc to mitigate congestion


PTI, Mar 24, 2020, 1:05 PM IST

New Delhi: Video streaming major Netflix on Tuesday, March 24 said that it will reduce traffic on telecommunications networks by 25 per cent while maintaining the quality of service for users in India, as part of its efforts to help mitigate network congestion amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Companies like Amazon Prime Video are also temporarily lowering bit rates a measure of how much data is being transferred to ease pressure on telecom network infrastructure.

Consumption of digital content has gone up manifold as people are forced to stay indoors as almost the entire country is under lockdown to contain the spread of the deadly COVID-19.

“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. 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.

He added this will provide significant relief to congested networks, and the measure will be deployed in India for the next 30 days.

The company, which has over 167 million users globally, has already undertaken similar measures in Europe. It doesn’t provide country-specific subscriber numbers.

Netflix typically has many different streams for a single title within each resolution. This action would result in removal of the highest bandwidth streams, and so, subscribers will continue to have access to the service they have paid for (Ultra-High Definition, High Definition or Standard Definition) depending on the device they use.

In India, Netflix has a significant number of subscribers on the Mobile Plan which is Standard Definition.

Netflix’s rival, Amazon Prime Video on Monday had said that it has begun efforts to reduce streaming bitrates in India. Bitrate usually determines the size and quality of video and audio files. Higher bitrate indicates better quality.

The Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) 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 needed for “critical” functions at this juncture.

“We support the need for careful management of telecom services to ensure they can handle the increased internet demand with so many people now at home full-time due to COVID-19. In India, we’ve already begun the effort to reduce streaming bitrates whilst maintaining a quality streaming experience for our customers,” an Amazon Prime Video spokesperson had said.

A Hotstar spokesperson had said that the company’s video streaming is based on adaptive bitrate streaming, which ensures that it is “lean” in internet consumption. However, the company said it is “prepared to reduce the bitrate for our HD streams, should the need arise”.

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