With a number of users currently staying home to avoid COVID-19, the demand for online services has spiked. To ease the congestion of bandwidth, YouTube has announced that all videos uploaded on its site will default to SD quality or 480p for one month.
YouTube first implemented this policy in Europe in response to the European Commission’s request to reduce streaming quality and prevent overloading. Other platforms, like Amazon Prime, soon followed suit in reducing streaming quality default.
The policy will now be implemented on a global scale and in the coming days, users will still be able to watch in a higher resolution but must actively choose to do so.
Streaming video has been found to take up more bandwidth than other activities done over the internet. In a study by Sandvine, Google, the parent company of YouTube and Instagram, proved to be the largest consumer of bandwidth at 12% with Netflix registering closely at 11.44%. Also included in the list are Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon. The most recent report details YouTube usage to have doubled since people started staying at home.
Combining all these companies would compromise over 43% of all internet traffic. YouTube believes that the world won’t be running out of bandwidth any time soon but is taking preemptive measures nonetheless.