Streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube have been urged by the EU to limit their services in order to prevent broadband networks from crashing as tens of millions people start working from home.
On March 18, Thierry Breton, one of the European commissioners 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” during the coronavirus crisis.
The EU said streaming platforms should consider offering only standard definition, instead of high-definition programmes and users should be responsible about their data consumption.
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There are worries that domestic broadband connections, which were designed to cope with mainly evening surges in traffic, may not be able to handle people holding video conferences and children taking online classes or logging on to play games or watch movies.
Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg stated that the social media company was experiencing “surges” in the use of certain services, including a doubling of calls over its WhatsApp and Messenger apps.
“We need to make sure we are on top of this from an infrastructure perspective,” he said.
In Italy, which is on complete lockdown, there has been a three-fold increase in the use of video conferencing, streaming and gaming. This drove a 75 per cent rise in residential data traffic across broadband and mobile networks during the weekend, according to Telecom Italia.
Data shown by speed test company Ookla showed that broadband speeds in China and Italy have held up but mobile networks have struggled.
A Netflix spokesperson acknowledged the potential problem but pointed to the existing tools it already provides to internet service providers, which allow them to store its library closer to customers, easing some of the burden on the internet provider.
YouTube has not yet disclosed any comment on the matter.