Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube recently lowered the quality of streaming video content on their respective platforms to tackle network congestion caused by a surge in the number of users owing to coronavirus-led lockdown. Facebook has also done something similar and has lowered the bitrate of content that can be streamed on Facebook as well as Instagram. The company says doing so will help manage the load on Internet infrastructure that has been caused by a sudden uptick in the number of users consuming content while they remain in social isolation and practise social distancing to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Facebook is lowering the bitrate on its eponymous social media platform as well as Instagram across India, Europe, and Latin America. The decision to lower the bitrate has been taken keeping in mind the bandwidth constraints during a time of unprecedented load. This has been done so that everyone can access the services and stay connected with each other, without the risk of any major outage as lockdowns become a commonplace to contain the spread of coronavirus. After all, this happened in the case of Discord and Microsoft Teams earlier this month, when the number of users on the aforementioned services skyrocketed in a very short span of time, resulting in a brief service outage.
Coming back to the Mark Zuckerberg-led company’s decision to lower the bitrate across Facebook and Instagram, the main user-facing consequence is that the quality of videos will be lowered. Facebook also said it is working to make sure its infrastructure remains stable in this period. Here’s what a Facebook spokesperson said regarding the move:
To help alleviate any potential network congestion, we will temporarily reduce bit rates for videos on Facebook and Instagram in India. We are committed to working with our partners to manage any bandwidth constraints during this period of heavy demand, while also ensuring people are able to remain connected using Facebook apps and services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To recall, Netflix lowered the streaming video quality in India to reduce the traffic by 25 percent for the period of 30 days, after implementing the tactic in Europe. This materialised a day after Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) asked players such as Netflix, Hotstar, Prime Video, and YouTube to lower the quality of content across their platforms to reduce traffic congestion and prevent the infrastructure from overloading.