Streaming platforms in India appear to have started relaxing bandwidths that were suppressed for close to three months following government orders. Reports suggest that Netflix has started to rollout its streaming service at the same bitrate as it does in the United States.
While the video resolutions of streaming platforms had stayed constant, Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime had reduced the amount of data they use per stream by about 25% following the orders from the federal government in anticipation of a surge in demand as people stayed home due to the Covid-19 lockdown. Reports had it that internet service providers in India were witnessing a 15% surge in the volume of daily traffic and data consumption.
The Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) had written to the federal government requesting it to tell streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and others to initiate measures that will ease pressure on network infrastructure, whose use was needed in other critical areas.
Bitrate, in general, determines the size and quality of video and audio files. Higher bitrate indicates better quality.
Following the government's request, the OTT platforms started to lower the data consumption that streaming takes up on their platforms.
The platforms also suspended high definition and ultra high definition content on mobile networks in a move to decongest the mobile networks for smooth digital operations of essential services, including digital payments, online/digital education, digital banking and online healthcare.
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Hope for sports action on OTT platforms in HD
Now, though the lockdown is being persisted with varying amounts of severity across the country, OTT platforms are said to be slowly restoring the suppressed bitrate to their original levels.
According to a report in Medianama, “bitrates seemed to be returning to normal across at least ACT Broadband and Reliance Jio, and perhaps for all internet users in India. 1080p video without HDR, which was mostly capped at around 4Mbps, is now streaming at the same bitrate as it does in the US.”
The report said it was not sure whether things have returned to normalcy on Amazon Prime.
But sources in the industry confirmed that all other OTT platforms would follow suit soon (if they have not already) as there is no compulsion any more to maintain a watch over their bitrate.
In any case, there is a small controversy going around that there was really no need in India to reduce the bitrate as there was no significant increase in Wifi usage across India.
The Director General of Cellular Operators Association of India, Rajan Mathews, has been quoted in the media as saying that streaming services can now figure out restrictions individually with networks.
With sports activity showing signs of picking up, the returning to higher quality of streaming would come in handy for fans to watch the action on some of these platforms as stadiums continue to be out of bounds for spectators in these social distancing times.
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