Netflix has not yet rolled back a temporary reduction in video streaming bitrates in South Africa, the company confirmed to MyBroadband.
In an effort to ease the burden of data traffic on networks during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company temporarily lowered bitrates in Europe from mid-March.
It later implemented the same measures in South Africa and the rest of Africa.
At the time, it told MyBroadband the reduction would be effective starting 23:59 on 30 March 2020 and would last for a period of 30 days.
This meant the streaming quality should have reverted to normal levels by the end of April.
However, the company told MyBroadband it has not made the switch back as yet. Netflix said it will gradually lift bitrates in each country as network conditions allow.
“As network conditions improve we will begin lifting the bitrate caps we introduced in March on a country-by-country basis,” it stated.
According to a report from FlatpanelsHD, it appears these bitrates have returned to normal in certain European countries.
Netflix subscribers in Denmark, Germany, and Norway have reported they are measuring 4K HDR streaming bitrates at up to a 15Mbps, up from 7.62Mbps.
For streaming services like Netflix, a higher bitrate accommodates better video quality – as more data is streamed to the viewer per second.
Typically a lower bitrate means lower-quality videos for streaming services, but Netflix claimed it had found a way to maintain the quality of its video streams while reducing traffic load by 25%.
“Given the crisis, we’ve developed a way to reduce Netflix’s traffic on telecommunications networks by 25% while also maintaining the quality of our service,”Netflix said in a previous statement to MyBroadband.
“So consumers should continue to get the quality that comes with their plan – whether it’s Ultra-High, High, or Standard Definition,” Netflix stated.
Netflix explained it has many different bitrate streams for each movie or TV show within each of these resolutions. For the periods of reduced bitrates, Netflix removed the highest bandwidth streams.
Netflix capacity helps with reliability
Netflix also noted it has added over four times its normal capacity to deal with increased demand and help to maintain quality of service.
This measure appears to be working well for the streaming giant, as detailed in a report by Bloomberg.
It cites a recent survey conducted by research firm J.D. Power which showed Netflix customers are reporting fewer service problems than those of rival streaming services – including Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and Hulu.