Netflix may be about to reduce streaming quality for 30 days
Since starting to write this item things have changed, so even before publishing here is version two.
It appears that after a phone call with EU Commissioner Thierry Breton Netflix is to reduce streaming quality across Europe with a suggested bandwidth saving of 25%.
Following the discussions between Commissioner Thierry Breton and [Netflix chief executive] Reed Hastings, and given the extraordinary challenges raised by the coronavirus, Netflix has decided to begin reducing bitrates across all our streams in Europe for 30 days.Netflix on streaming changes on via BBC
There has been reports of some congestion in some EU countries as large numbers of people are home and also working from home, but in the UK to date there has been no wide spread problems with the fixed line providers networks. At this point in time the evenings when people are streaming is still the peak for network usage and while daytime use has increased due to home working, evenings such as the launch of Call of Duty Warzone have created much larger blips in traffic.
Reducing the quality of video streaming given the wide use of caching via CDN devices in the larger providers means that interconnect capacity is often not impacted when customers of providers such as BT, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk are watching video.
If this bitrate reduction does occur then it is not going to be popular at a time when escaping into a boxset is the preferred choice for many in the evenings.
We would urge Netflix to talk to the individual broadband providers in the UK and other countries of Europe and decide this change on a per provider basis, rather than a blanket restriction.
Addition 7:20pm: Individual broadband providers invariably have the ability to restrict traffic via traffic management from different content providers, but net neutrality means that it is only used when a network is about to break. One real world example that surfaced on our forums recently was three customers who had an unlimited mobile broadband service who were finding that Netflix was streaming at SD quality levels and there the solution was to call three and get the GoBinge add-on turned off on the account. The GoBinge option allowed for unlimited streaming on packages that otherwise had a data limit, therefore was a misnomer anyway if you had the unlimited service.