YouTube limiting videos to standard definition for a month

The spread of the Coronavirus around the world has meant that stringent measures are kicking in to be able to contain it.

With isolation and quarantines being the way to go to contain the spread of the virus and lockdowns being announced in various parts of the world, there has been a particular strain on internet traffic around the world as more and more people work from home. Students, too, are learning from home in the wake of school shutdowns.

Being one of the biggest contributors to global internet traffic, Bloomberg reported yesterday that starting yesterday (Tuesday, March 24th), YouTube would be reducing the quality of the videos that are served to users by default to standard definition – 480p.

Reports point to YouTube generating almost twice as much internet traffic as Netflix at this time.

“People are watching a bit more YouTube than normal (because it is a great source of information from a wide variety of sources) to try and figure out what is actually going on and to learn about what they should be doing. And unlike normal, where their usage is divided between mobile networks, work, or school networks, and random WiFi hotspots, it is all centred on home networks,” notes network intelligence solutions company Sandvine’s VP for Global Marketing, Cam Cullen, in a blog post.

Users will still be able to manually choose to stream videos in their preferred quality (like HD, for instance) from the app or website as they have been able to do before.

This is expected to last for a month.

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YouTube had already instituted this measure in Europe which has been under lockdown.

Other platforms have undertaken similar measures on the continent as well but are yet to extend them to the entire world.

Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are the two services that have instituted such measures that are accessible to users in Kenya. Other services that are not accessible to Kenyans, at least officially, and whose changes at a global scale are unlikely to affect most of us include Disney+ and Apple TV+.

Such measures are associated with helping internet service providers (ISPs) in various countries mitigate network congestion.

Locally, Safaricom, which has doubled the bandwidth of its home internet service, had put in place such measures back in 2018 in a bid to assist its subscribers take control of their data consumption, only switching to HD playback on-demand.

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