Coronavirus: EU, Netflix, other streaming services discussing need to adjust for bandwidth needs

Coronavirus: EU, Netflix, other streaming services may decrease quality to increase bandwidth

More people are practicing self-quarantine and that means more people are on their home networks, either trying to go about their normal workday or binge-watching a streaming service.

But there’s only so much bandwidth to go around, so officials at the European Union are asking Netflix and other streaming services to not stream in high definition to help make sure the internet remains stable through the COVID-19 pandemic, CNN reported.

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European officials said they have seen the effect of having so many people online at the same time.

A Netflix spokesperson said a discussion is scheduled between Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and European Commissioner Thierry Breton, CNN reported.

"Streaming platforms, telecom operators and users, we all have a joint responsibility to take steps to ensure the smooth functioning of the internet during the battle against the virus propagation, Breton said in a statement to Politico.

Netflix says it will adjust stream quality as needed, but EU officials said they have not seen an issue with the internet yet and that the system is currently handling the extra traffic, CNN reported.

Facebook is also seeing a surge in usage. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said it’s a bigger spike than seen on New Year’s Eve. He also said that more than double the normal amount of users are logging in on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger for voice and video calls, CNN reported.

The Federal Communications Commission is working with telecommunications companies to make sure the internet stays connected. AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint are all taking part in the Keep Americans Connected Pledge. The agreement states the companies will not end service for people who can’t pay because of the new coronavirus and will wave late fees. It also opened Wi-Fi hot spots to Americans who need them, CNBC reported.

FILE PHOTO: Netflix is discussing options with the leaders of the EU about streaming services during the COVID-19 outbreak.
FILE PHOTO: Netflix is discussing options with the leaders of the EU about streaming services during the COVID-19 outbreak. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)