Is Our Increased Netflix Usage Breaking the Internet?

The European Union thinks the service may need to slow down.

Netflix
Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
By Kirk Miller / March 19, 2020 12:08 pm

With millions of people now stuck at home, Netflix use is expected to soar.

And given that the streaming giant can take up 15 percent of web traffic in non-pandemic times, the increased user numbers and streaming hours may seriously slow down the Internet. According to CNN, the European Union is urging Netflix and other streaming services to stop showing video in high definition to ease strain on internet bandwidth.

European Commissioner Thierry Breton tweeted Wednesday that he had already spoken with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings about his concerns. He followed up with a statement on Thursday, noting users and services “have a joint responsibility” to ensure the smooth functioning of the Internet.

For its part, Netflix says it already adjusts streaming quality based on network capacity and uses delivery networks to keep its library closer to users so it uses less bandwidth.

While we’ve haven’t reached peak Internet usage yet, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg did note this week that his company’s various platforms were already facing “big surges,” particularly with voice and video calls on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

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