YouTube admits South African buffering issues

YouTube has confirmed it experienced problems with video loading in South Africa about two weeks ago.

Numerous South Africans complained about very slow video buffering on the popular Google-owned streaming platform over several days in the last week of 2022.

At the time, Downdetector and Twitter showed a flurry of user reports about “terribly” and “painfully” long video loading times.

Some said they had no problems accessing the service over their mobile data connection, but that buffering was slow when using their home Wi-Fi.

Others said the problem only occurred on the smartphone, TV, and console YouTube apps and not when using the service on a browser.

The graph below from Downdetector shows the surge in YouTube problem reports on 28 and 29 December 2022.

Complaints seemed to gradually die down in the days that followed.

Despite users’ grievances, neither Google nor YouTube confirmed they were aware of any problems in their responses on social media.

However, some major Internet service providers (ISPs) — including Vox — told their customers that they and Google were aware of the issue and that engineers were attending to it.

Another ISP told MyBroadband that the issue was impacting providers with and without on-network Google Global Caches — suggesting it was not limited to certain ISPs.

A third said that ISPs with their own caches appeared to be more heavily impacted.

One of the ISPs also told MyBroadband that a representative for the Internet giant had initially denied that Google was responsible for the problems, but later acknowledged it was investigating the issue.

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

When MyBroadband initially asked Google for comment, we were told it might take a long time to respond to our queries because several of the relevant spokespeople were on leave.

A YouTube spokesperson has since confirmed that the company encountered a problem that resulted in slow video loading times.

“We have now resolved the issue. We are sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused our users in South Africa,” they said.

The spokesperson did not provide more details about the cause of the slow buffering or when and how it was fixed.

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YouTube admits South African buffering issues