Big YouTube loading problems in South Africa

Numerous South Africans have complained about problems accessing YouTube content in the past few days.

Users have reported the platform has been loading video content very slowly when using certain devices and Internet connections since at least Wednesday, 28 December 2022.

YouTube’s South African Downdetector page showed a massive increase in reports of user issues during the evening on that day.

After a slight drop in the early morning hours of Thursday, 29 December 2022, the reports picked up sharply again at around 09:00 AM and remained high throughout the rest of the day.

Over 80% of users reporting problems flagged them as related to “video streaming”.

The graph below from Downdetector shows the surges in reports of issues with YouTube on Wednesday and Thursday.

Comments from users spoke of “terribly” and “painfully” long video loading times.

“Did the YouTube server crash? I see that on mobile data it streams fine but on Wi-Fi not,” one user said, also asking whether a recent update had caused the problem.

Another said they phoned their Internet service provider (ISP) and received an automated message that confirmed Google was aware of the issue and its engineers were looking into it.

Vox was among the ISPs that confirmed to a customer there was a problem on Google’s side but did not provide details.

A third user said that YouTube was loading fine for them through a browser, but the Android and PlayStation apps were “all but useless”.

Twitter was filled with similar complaints and attempts to get answers from YouTube over the issue.

Google first denies problem, then U-turns

Google had not responded to MyBroadband’s query concerning the issue by the time of publication.

However, several prominent South African Internet service providers (ISPs) told MyBroadband there was a problem with YouTube across various ISPs and fibre infrastructure providers.

One said the issue was impacting providers with and without on-network Google Global Caches — further proof that it was not ISP-specific.

Another source said ISPs with their own caches appear to be affected more.

Google had initially dismissed that it was responsible for the problem, but a representative had since confirmed to ISPs that the company was investigating the problem.

“We received multiple reports from several peers. Our internal teams are already investigating, we’ll keep you posted,” a Google representative said.

In an email MyBroadband has seen, Google said that it did not have an estimated time to identify the issue and that its internal teams were still working on it.

One ISP told MyBroadband the issue definitely appeared to be localised to South Africa because bypassing the local point of presence and routing via the UK solved it.

Now read: The good, the bad and the ugly — South African government websites rated

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Big YouTube loading problems in South Africa