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Netflix and YouTube asked to limit services to prevent network crash

(Image credit: Shutterstock / sitthiphong)

The EU has asked content providers such as Youtube and Netflix to cap their services to ease the burden on broadband networks caused by increased traffic.

It is feared networks could crumble under the surge in content streaming, online gaming and remote working brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

Although providers insist network infrastructure can cope with traffic fluctuations, Brussels has asked streaming services to limit content to standard definition - as opposed to high definition or 4K - and users to consider reducing data consumption.

Coronavirus internet connection

Domestic broadband is well equipped to handle evening traffic surges, but social distancing and quarantine policies introduced by governments across the globe are further aggravating these periods of high traffic.

Scott Petty, CTO at UK telecoms firm Vodafone, says peak traffic is no longer confined to the evenings, but now extends from midday to 9pm.

Meanwhile, Telecom Italia recorded a 75% increase in Italian data traffic over the weekend, with online games such as Fortnite and Call of Duty responsible for a significant proportion of the jump.

According to Thierry Breton, a European commissioner responsible for digital policy, telecoms companies, content platforms and users share a “joint responsibility to take steps to ensure the smooth functioning of the internet” during periods of quarantine.

Netflix has conceded additional traffic could pose problems, but gestured towards existing measures that allow the company to adjust content resolution based on available bandwidth.

“Commissioner Breton is right to highlight the importance of ensuring that the internet continues to run smoothly during this critical time,” said a Netflix spokesperson.

“We’ve been focused on network efficiency for many years, including providing our open connect service for free to telecommunications companies.”

Via Financial Times