Facebook lowers video quality in Latin America, following Europe

FILE PHOTO: A Facebook logo is displayed on a smartphone in this illustration taken January 6, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc will lower video streaming quality on its platform and on Instagram in Latin America, replicating measures adopted in Europe, to ease network congestion in a region that is starting to feel the grip of the coronavirus.

On Sunday, the world’s largest social network followed the steps of Netflix, Alphabet Inc’s YouTube, Amazon and Walt Disney in response to a call by the European Union to stave off internet gridlock as thousands of people work from home due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“To help alleviate any potential network congestion, we will temporarily reduce bit rates for videos on Facebook and Instagram in Latin America,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement, adding the company is working with partners to manage bandwidth constraints amid heavier demand.

Brazilian streaming platform GloboPlay, owned by the country’s largest TV channel, announced that video streaming in 4K and Full High Definition would be temporarily suspended as of Monday to preserve Brazil’s internet infrastructure and allow more people to access its contents.

Asked about future plans to lower streaming quality in Brazil, like it did in Europe, Netflix said it “will continue to work with internet service providers and governments all over the world and will apply these changes in other places if necessary.”

Local telecoms regulator Anatel has signed a commitment pact with carriers and other providers to keep Brazilians connected during the coronavirus outbreak, creating a crisis committee to coordinate actions and monitor data traffic and the network capacity.

“Anatel, within the scope of the risk management and network performance monitoring group, will prioritize emergency solutions whose main goal is the continuity of the service and its access by the Brazilian population,” the regulator said.

Reporting by Gabriela Mello; Editing by Leslie Adler