Back in March Netflix reduced the bitrate of its streams in various parts of the world, including Australia, to help with network congestion during the COVID-19 pandemic. The streaming giant has begun returning its streaming quality to normal in some parts of Europe, but it can’t confirm when this might happen in Australia.
The decision to reduce streaming quality was made back in March 2020 to help telcos deal with the increased loads being added to the networks as more people began working from home and spending more time inside.
According to technology site Flatpanelshd, users across Denmark, Norway, Germany and other parts of Europe have noticed an an increase in bitrate over the past week. Reports from May 13 indicate that 4K was up to 15 Mb/s.
We’re yet to see such a rollback here in Australia as yet, but Netflix has told us that it will keep us posted. We will most likely see this happen once there is less less across ISPs across the country.
“As network conditions improve we will begin lifting the bit rate caps we introduced in March on a country by country basis. In the last two months we’ve added more than four times the normal capacity to deal with the increased demand and help maintain the quality of our service for members,” said a Netflix spokesperson in an email to Gizmodo Australia.
Considering that restrictions are beginning to ease and more people may start returning to work, it will be interesting to see whether the Netflix bitrate rollback will coincide.
It’s currently unclear how many people were impacted, or even noticed, the drop in bitrate over the past two months. Personally, I occasionally have some quality issues while loading up a TV show or movie at first, but the stream was usually quick to correct itself.
This is what Netflix had to say in a blog post back in March. “In normal circumstances, we have many (sometimes dozens) of different streams for a single title within each resolution. In Europe, for the next 30 days, within each category we’ve simply removed the highest bandwidth streams. If you are particularly tuned into video quality you may notice a very slight decrease in quality within each resolution. But you will still get the video quality you paid for.”
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