Commission welcomes actions by streaming services to reduce pressure on Internet infrastructure and sets up reporting mechanism with European regulators

Following his conversations with Netflix and YouTube, Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton has welcomed the commitment of the two streaming providers to take action to reduce the pressure on the Internet infrastructure in the context of increased connectivity demands resulting from social distancing measures in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic. In a call with CEO Reed Hastings, Netflix announced to reduce bit rates across all streams in Europe for 30 days, thus reducing Netflix traffic on European networks by 25 percent. In a call with Google CEO Sundar Pichai and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, YouTube also committed to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to Standard Definition by default. Furthermore, the Commission is also in touch with European broadcasters and other relevant services. Commissioner Breton said: “As millions of Europeans are adapting to social distancing measures thanks to digital platforms, helping them to telework, e-learn and entertain themselves, I warmly welcome the initiatives by Google and Netflix to preserve the smooth functioning of the Internet during the COVID19 crisis. I highly appreciate the strong sense of responsibility shown by the two streaming services. We will closely follow the evolution of the situation together. I will also continue to discuss with other relevant services.” The announcements followed on statements made by Commissioner Breton yesterday, calling on the responsibility of streaming services, operators and users to prevent congestion and ensure the open Internet. He advised streaming platforms to offer standard rather than high definition and to cooperate with telecom operators. The latter should take preventive and mitigating measures. Commissioner Breton also encouraged users to apply settings that reduce data consumption, including the use of Wi-Fi or lower resolution for content. Although the increased demand for Internet connectivity is not causing a general situation of network congestion thus far, as a precautionary measure, yesterday, the Commission and the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC) set up a special reporting mechanism to monitor the internet traffic situation in each Member State to be able to respond to capacity issues. In a joint statement, the Commission and BEREC “committed to participate to the collective effort to support individuals and businesses to continue their activities and contacts in the best possible way through the Internet during these unprecedented times”.