The news: Netflix has removed the highest bandwidth streams in Pakistan for 30 days.
Following high internet usage in various countries during the COVID-19 outbreak, Netflix developed a method to reduce its traffic by 25%. This method was first deployed in Spain and Italy, then Europe and the United Kingdom.
Lockdown and internet usage: With lockdowns across the country, Pakistan’s internet usage has increased by 15% in one week. During the lockdown, with the encouragement of social distancing, many citizens are staying at home, universities are conducting online classes, and many private organizations and businesses have adapted a work-from-home policy. Even government officials and political leaders including the prime minister have made use of video links to communicate or hold conferences. In a statement, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said that these activities may be a reason for the sharp rise in internet usage across the country. However, they maintained “There is sufficient internet capacity available in the country to meet the growing demands of the future.”
Change in bandwidth: Netflix offers multiple streaming qualities within each resolution quality for the titles on its platform. These range between Ultra-High Definition (UHD), High Definition (HD) and Standard Definition (SD). According to the statement, Netflix will reduce the highest bandwidth within each category, so there will be a barely noticeable decrease in the streaming quality. “Consumers should continue to get the quality that comes with their plan — whether it’s Ultra-High, High or Standard Definition. We believe that this will provide significant relief to congested networks and will be deploying it in Pakistan for the next 30 days” Netflix VP for Content Delivery, Ken Florance said in a statement. He also said that the goal of removing the highest bandwidth is “to maintain the quality of service for our members while supporting ISPs (Internet Service Providers) who are facing an unprecedented strain on their networks.”
Open connect technology: Florence also stated that Netflix has invested in adaptive streaming and Open Connect service for many years, which dynamically adjusts the video and sound quality based on the available bandwidth. This means that users will not experience buffering, even when Netflix is using lower bandwidth. Open Connect technology allows Netflix to partner with ISPs to provide the best quality service using low internet capacity.