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YouTube Switches to Standard Definition Streaming by Default in EU

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Following Netflix’s example, YouTube has switched to standard definition streaming by default in Europe.

According to a new report from Reuters, YouTube has agreed to comply with The European Commission’s request to switch to standard quality streams in an effort to avoid bandwidth overload in the European Union.

“We are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default,” the company said in a statement.

The decision comes after a European Union Commissioner Thierry Breton reached out to video providers and lobbied them to throttle back their streaming so internet networks would not become overloaded as millions of people are stuck at home. According to Google, Breton met this week with Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki to discuss the issue.

“We will continue working with [EU] member state governments and network operators to minimize stress on the system, while also delivering a good user experience,” YouTube said in the statement.

The move comes a day after Netflix announced it will throttle bit rates across all of its streams in Europe for 30 days — a step that’s expected to reduce the company’s traffic on European networks by about 25 percent.

Unlike Netflix, YouTube hasn’t revealed yet how long its videos will be capped at SD quality and how much impact it would have on the region’s bandwidth.

While that may solve the problems in Europe’s internet infrastructure, it’s possible that more use of Netflix in the US and other parts of the world could cause similar issues. Indeed, the streaming service already takes up over 12 percent of worldwide download traffic, according to a report from the research firm Sandvine.

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