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COVID-19: YouTube Limits Video Quality To Ease Internet Traffic

YouTube has changed the default quality of its video amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
YouTube has changed the default quality of its video amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Photo Credit: Pixabay

With millions of people around the world confined to their homes due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, YouTube announced it will be adjusting its default video quality to ensure that there is sufficient bandwidth for all users.

YouTube videos will automatically stream in standard definition for at least a month, as health officials work to curtail the spread of COVID-19, which has infected nearly 60,000 people in America alone.

Other streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ have taken similar steps overseas, though it is unclear if they will take effect stateside.

“We continue to work closely with governments and network operators around the globe to do our part to minimize stress on the system during this unprecedented situation,” a Google spokeswoman said in a statement. “Last week, we announced that we were temporarily defaulting all videos on YouTube to standard definition in the EU. Given the global nature of this crisis, we will expand that change globally.”

According to Google, which owns YouTube, more than two billion users visit the website each month, with people watching more than a billion hours of video daily.

Though YouTube’s default setting will set to standard, users will still have the capability to manually ratchet up a video’s resolution by adjusting the settings on the platform.

“On a normal weekday three months ago, internet traffic in the US looked like a series of waves. For home connections, you’d see crests in the evening when millions of people snuggled up to watch their choice of streaming entertainment service,” according to a Recode report . “But after companies started asking (people) to work from home and local governments issued shelter-in-place orders in recent weeks, the amplitude of those waves went up. Some new crests also emerged just before lunchtime as more people were using their home connections during the day.”

Separately, network and cybersecurity company Akamai announced that it's working with Sony and Microsoft to lower videogame download speeds during peak usage hours in areas facing mass Internet congestion.

"This is very important for gaming software downloads, which account for large amounts of internet traffic when an update is released," Akamai CEO Tom Leighton wrote in a blog post. "A software update for a modern game generates an amount of traffic roughly equal to 30,000 web pages.”

As of Wednesday, March 25, there have been 445,753 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, which resulted to 19,767 deaths. In the United States, there have been 59,909 cases, which resulted in 791 deaths. Only China (81,218) and Italy (69,176) have seen more cases.

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