Netflix to cut data traffic in Philippines so internet doesn't break amid Luzon lockdown

Netflix to cut data traffic in Philippines so internet doesn't break amid Luzon lockdown

MANILA, Philippines — As demand soars from people staying at home due to coronavirus fears, local telco regulators on Wednesday said entertainment platform Netflix agreed to manage its network traffic to ease pressure on the internet.

In a statement, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said Netflix will “effectively and efficiently” manage its broadcasting bit rates to cut data congestion by 25%.

The move is expected to reduce strain on telco networks in the next 30 days covering the duration of the Luzon lockdown, a drastic move that put more than half of the Philippines’ population under restrictive quarantine measures to stem the spread of the new coronavirus, which has infected nearly 636 people as of Wednesday, 4 p.m.

The Philippine Chamber of Telecommunications Operators (PCTO)  said many users have complained about slow internet speeds since the lockdown began, as millions of Filipinos turning to the web to kill boredom and work remotely crowd out networks.

"Hence, we have sent this reminder for our customers to be guided in using the Internet responsibly and for us operators to ensure continued service reliability and quality for all," PCTO Chairman Enrico delos Reyes told in an emailed response.

The NTC said Netflix developed a way to ease data congestion “while maintaining the quality of service,” adding that consumers can still watch their favorite movies and shows on the platform in both standard and ultra-high definition despite the adjustments.

“The measure will help free-up bandwidth as the increased demand by subscribers may risk overloading network capacity during the quarantine period,” the NTC said.

“Data consumption is expected to surge due to the work-from-home arrangements as well as increased government, private and education demands,” they added.

Netflix has taken similar steps in other countries to reduce network traffic amid wide-ranging lockdowns and quarantines. Earlier this month, the streaming giant and Google's video-sharing service YouTube both agreed to reduce the default image quality of streaming video in Europe to ease data gridlock.

Netflix now claims 167 million subscribers in 190 countries, making it the dominant player in the global streaming market. This month, Netflix launched a P149 mobile plan in the Philippines in a bid to capture more Filipino subscribers.