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Coronavirus impact: Suspend HD videos, COAI tells Netflix, Hotstar, other OTTs

Netflix, Facebook, Disney, Amazon and YouTube have also committed to lowering bit rates in Europe.

March 23, 2020 / 07:19 PM IST

The coronavirus pandemic has put the world on lockdown with companies across industries being asked to shut shop. The outbreak is forcing a majority of the global population to stay indoors. This is causing a spike in internet data consumption around the world with countries like Italy and South Korea reporting massive increases.

Data consumption in India has also increased significantly in the past couple of weeks, and now regulators are worried that Internet speeds could take a hit. The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) are taking preventative measures to avoid internet slowdowns. COAI has written to Hotstar, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube and other OTT platforms requesting them to only stream content in Standard Definition (SD).

The COAI has also written to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) urging the government to issue advisories to all concerned platforms. In a letter the DoT, COAI wrote; “We believe that during this critical time, it is absolutely essential for the streaming platforms to cooperate with telecom providers so as to manage the traffic distribution patterns which are likely to strain the network infrastructure at a time when it is needed for various critical requirements.”

COAI believes lockdown measures in various parts of the country will create a sudden surge in demand for online video streaming. It has also suggested that all advertisements and pop-ups be removed from websites and be replaced with public announcements on awareness regarding the coronavirus.

For now, these precautionary measures seems like a step in the right direction. Netflix is also set to reduce streaming quality in Europe for 30 days. Facebook, Disney, Amazon and YouTube have also committed to lowering bit rates in Europe. Disney’s streaming service, which was scheduled to arrive in India on March 31 has also been postponed to April 15.
Carlsen Martin
first published: Mar 23, 2020 07:19 pm

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