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Facebook latest firm to reduce video quality

Facebook has become the latest major company that has agreed to downgrade its video streaming quality in Europe as the EU looks to prevent an ‘internet gridlock’.

Facebook said that it would reduce streaming quality on both its core platform and its other social media service Instagram. A spokesperson for Facebook said: “To help alleviate any potential network congestion, we will temporarily reduce bit rates for videos on Facebook and Instagram in Europe.”

The company joins the likes of Netflix, YouTube, Amazon and Disney, who all had separately announced moves to curb their data usage as the continent battles the coronavirus pandemic.

The movement started last Wednesday, when EU internal market and services commissioner – and former France Télécom CEO – Thierry Breton tweeted that he had spoken to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings about ensuring an adequate amount of bandwidth is left available and urged users to “#SwitchToStandard definition when HD is not necessary.”

Telcos through Europe have said that they have been able to cope with the increased data usage as the continent potentially faces months indoors, there are fears that networks will become increasingly congested as millions are forced to work from home. Streaming video can account for two-thirds of traffic on fixed and mobile networks, a figure that will undoubtedly be higher as the world is stuck indoors.

A person close to Facebook said that it will reduce its bandwidth use until fears have subsided, while Netflix and YouTube said that they will cut their quality for 30 days. Disney will lower its usage by at least 25% in all of the markets where it has launched Disney+, going so far as to delay its French launch to April 7.