Alphabet Inc’s YouTube said on Friday it will reduce its streaming quality in the European Union to avoid straining the internet as thousands of Europeans, constrained by the coronavirus outbreak, switch to teleworking and watch videos at home.
YouTube is the second company after Netflix to act after EU industry chief Thierry Breton urged streaming platforms to cut the quality of their videos to prevent internet gridlock. Videos account for a substantial part of internet traffic data.
The move came after Breton spoke to Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki. It said so far it had only seen a few usage peaks but decided to act to minimise stress on the system.
“We are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default,” the company said in a statement. Standard definition videos are not as detailed or as sharp as high definition videos.
Europe’s telecoms providers, from Vodafone to Deutsche Telekom, have reported a spike in data traffic in recent days, forcing Breton to issue his pre-emptive call before the internet breaks down.