DICT: More video-streaming firms to reduce transmission rate

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said the public can expect steadier Internet experience in the following weeks after video streaming companies Google, iFlix, and iWant agreed to manage their streaming bitrates to help free up bandwidth and ease data congestion due to the increasing Internet demand amid the government-imposed lockdown.

The DICT said Google has already started shifting YouTube’s default definition setting from High Definition (HD) to Standard Definition (SD) on mobile and broadband network connections.

The California-based tech giant, however, said it will still allow users to switch to HD in cases where HD makes an important difference to users like in some learning contexts (reading text written on a whiteboard).

Meanwhile, iFlix said no content is being streamed at 4k resolution on the streaming platform at the moment. The video streaming company said it will continuously balance bandwidth usage to use as little data as possible while optimizing resolution for its users.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), which is an attached unit of the DICT, said in a statement that ABS-CBN-owned iWant started reducing its streaming bitrate by 33 percent last March 27, 2020.

In a memorandum dated March 12, 2020, the DICT directed the NTC to monitor the compliance of local telcos and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in providing ample bandwidth allocation and availability of service and signal based on their service level agreements during the lockdown period. As part of these initiatives, the NTC has requested assistance from online streaming platforms in the Philippines as an added measure to ensure stability of Internet service in the country.

Online streaming platform Netflix was among the first to respond by reducing its streaming bitrates in the Philippines, which is expected to reduce Netflix’s bandwidth usage by 25 percent.

“It is hoped that more streaming platforms like Facebook, Amazon and others will likewise consider the government’s call to cooperate in ensuring Internet stability and reducing the strain in the country’s ICT infostructure,” the DICT said.

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