Recently, Facebook announced that it would reduce its video quality in Europe to reduce demand on internet service providers. 

The COVID-19 pandemic left the world with no choice but to stay indoors. For this reason, a lot of people are looking for different ways to consume their time. One of the most-used pass-time is the internet. 

Facebook is Cutting Video Quality to Prevent Net Strain Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Without the pandemic, a lot of individuals have been using different social media platforms like Facebook daily. But now that the world is stuck indoors, people have no choice but to kill their time with the most accessible way– the internet. Due to this, networks in Europe fear that there will be network congestion shortly. 

With all the lockdown and isolation implementations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for streaming in the large parts of Europe has significantly increased. 

For this reason, Facebook decided to reduce the quality of videos. This change means that every video Facebook users will watch will consume fewer data. Still, it is unlikely for users to see a significant difference when it comes to the quality of the images they view.

The change in video quality will take effect on both Facebook and Instagram– another social media platform that it owns.

Similarly, Disney+, Apple TV+, and Netflix announced that they are going to take similar measures. 

Video Quality Reduced to Save Data Usage

Many factors influence the amount of data consumed when a user is streaming a video online.

One of the significant factors is the resolution of the video. Videos with high definition (HD) and ultra-high-definition 4k use more data compared to videos with standard definition. 

Another factor that plays a role in data consumption when streaming videos is bitrate. This is the amount of data streamed per second. Those videos that have a higher bitrate tend to be more exact, less blocky, or less pixilated. Videos with a lot of motion in the scene take up a higher bitrate, thus consume a higher amount of data.

Facebook Reduces Streaming Bitrate(not for Facebook Likes)

Apple TV+, Amazon’s Prime Video, as well as Netflix, have all reduced their streaming bitrate. Still, the range of resolutions for their videos remains unchanged. 

Facebook is Cutting Video Quality to Prevent Net Strain Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

According to Netflix, their European viewers would be able to save 25 percent of data due to the lowered bitrate of videos.

Moreover, Disney+ announced that it would slightly reduce its videos’ bitrates in Europe once the service is already launched in Austria, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and Spain. However, the French launch was delayed by the company until last April 7 due to the request of the country’s government. 

The Clear Change of Quality

In contrast, YouTube, a video-sharing platform owned by Google, said that its European users would experience a change in their video quality by default. This means that the videos they will watch will be on the standard definition, which is 480p. Still, YouTube users in the said country can even switch back to high-definition whenever they wish to.

The change will be taken into action over the next few days.

According to BBC, its BBC iPlayer would no longer make trial programs available in ultra-high definition 4k as a precautionary measure. It also added that it would reduce data used automatically if networks are congested. 

UK-based Telecoms Giant BT Said It Has Plenty of Rooms On Its Network

Netflix was the very first video-streaming service to announce that it was reducing its content’s bitrate. The decision was solidified after the streaming service had a meeting with European officials.

However, in the UK, telecoms giant BT noted that its network had plenty of headroom. It also added that there had been a significant increase in internet use during the daytime. This is because more people are now working from home due to the lockdown implementations brought about by the pandemic.

Moreover, the telecoms giant said that the data use was still far lower from the heights that it had previously recorded. For this reason, the network was still able to handle the surge.

Facebook, The Latest Platform to Reduce Its Video Quality

Furthermore, Facebook is the latest giant platform to agree to downgrade the quality of its video streamed by Europen users to prevent internet gridlock.

According to a spokesperson from the company, they will temporarily lower the bitrates of videos watched by European users on Facebook and Instagram to alleviate any possible network congestion.

Facebook is Cutting Video Quality to Prevent Net Strain Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

The tech giant joined Google’s YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, and Disney+ in its recent move. The aforementioned video-streaming platform separately announced that they would reduce the data consumption of its content as Europe fights the COVID-19 pandemic.

Facebook Followers Feel The Pain of Reduce Video Speed

The move started when Thierry Breton announced in a tweet that he had a meeting with Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix. Notably, Breton is the former CEO of France Telecom and the current EU internal market and services commissioner. 

In the said tweet, Breton noted that the meeting was about making sure that enough amount of bandwidth is left available. They also urged users to #SwitchToStandard definition whenever it is not necessary to watch in HD.

Through Europe, Telcos noted that they were successful in coping up with the increasing data usage as the continent remains indoors due to the pandemic. However, there are still fears that increasing congestion on networks will occur now that millions of people are left with no choice but to work from home. 

Conclusion

Moreover, streaming videos on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram is responsible for two-thirds of traffic on fixed and mobile networks. This amount of traffic will undoubtedly increase now that the world is isolated indoors. 

According to a person who is affiliated with Facebook, the company will reduce the platform’s bandwidth use. This change will be significant until fears have already subsided. On the other hand, YouTube and Netflix will be cutting their videos’ quality for 30 days. 

Furthermore, platforms are undoubtedly trying to take away to reduce the data consumption of their users from Europe– a move that has not been done ever in history but now.


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