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COVID-19 – Facebook and Instagram Reduce Video Quality

Monday, March 23rd, 2020 (5:26 pm) - Score 1,058

Facebook and Instagram have today become the latest internet content provider to “temporarily reduce” the quality (lower bitrates) of their video streams in order to help UK and EU broadband ISPs cope with demand during the Coronavirus outbreak. Netflix, YouTube, Apple TV, Amazon and Disney+ have already made such a move.

We are committed to working with our partners to manage any bandwidth constraints during this period of heavy demand, while also ensuring people are able to remain connected using Facebook apps and services during the #COVID-19 pandemic,” said Facebook’s Alexandru Voica.

We should add that the BBC has also made a related adjustment for their iPlayer service, albeit by stopping trials of their 4K (UltraHD) video streams as a “precautionary measure.” The broadcaster added that they will “automatically reduce the data used if networks are congested,” but we’re not clear on how this differs from their normal dynamic quality adjustment for those on slower connection speeds (all video streaming networks do this).

As we’ve said several times before, broadband ISPs in the United Kingdom appear to be managing their capacity quite well and the rising levels of data traffic from residential connections hasn’t caused any real issues (covered here). Indeed ISPs are able to cope with way above normal levels and many of them also cache video content much closer to their end-users (helps to significantly ease the burden on their networks and external links).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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7 Responses
  1. Avatar Adam

    I’ll leave this here. Thanks to Cheshire on the TBB forums for linking for those unaware of the article.


    The UK is doing just fine.

    • Avatar Ki

      > We are seeing an increase in mobile voice call volumes, which is to be expected. This is well within the levels the network is built to handle, but we would encourage customers to use the landline or IP voice services like Skype as well, especially for long conference calls.

      Except GSM calls.

    • Avatar dave

      I’m still seeing issues with calling on O2. It was ok over the weekend but problems came back today. I guess they have a capacity issue somewhere.

  2. Avatar mike


  3. Avatar Matt

    Ridiculous….. content providers can’t provide yet say the internet providers can’t supply….

    I can see from my end that internet providers or certainly Virgin Media are doing just fine, Netflix is suffering some server issues I’ve noticed, now tv had a little blip tonight that fixed itself quickly.

    Just giving me more and more reasons to not pay for anything at all.

    • Avatar ttaM

      Keep it up and you’ll be back on torrents or nothing at all.!!

      Providers are providing and suppliers are supplying but that’s just it, but I guess you’re expecting that every provider/supplier some home managed to confirm that they can cope with a 10 fold increase in usage with no issue at all because they managed to recreate this situation without using everyone in the uk for that test!!

      It’s almost as if logic has been left somewhere because covid-19!!!

  4. Avatar jet14

    My internet has become considerabally slower, i’m on superfast connectiing at 79999/20000 but the throughput is noticeable and slower, i think the isps are using traffice management and congestion is prevalent at nearly all times even before this new situation arose.
    All isps should provide the service they provide and charge for and not guaranteed upto 59mb on 80mb service and then falling far short.

    I hope all isps will take notice and provide better service and increase speeds to full and reduce congestion and increase bandwidth.

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