The EU Commission fears that the entire streaming of those who stayed at home could clog the Internet. Ultimately, Netflix and Youtube could be throttled.
On the Internet, all data is the same, that’s the rule of net neutrality. No bit should be discriminated. Actually. Because there is a loophole that Internet providers like Telekom could soon make use of. At least, if this continues with the extreme Netflix and Youtube viewing in the course of the Corona quarantine. The providers could turn off streaming sites, that is, pass through data from other services that take up less space in the networks faster.
The loophole can be found in the guidelines for the implementation of the European network neutrality rules by the national regulatory authorities. Accordingly, providers may “slow down or block certain services” in exceptional cases and no longer than necessary “. This is only possible with “exceptional or temporary network overloads”. The EU Commission and the responsible EU regulatory body Berec confirmed on Thursday that this scenario is no longer unrealistic: “This could become relevant after the restrictions that the member states have decided against the Covid 19 crisis.”
Millions are currently at home, and in addition to video telephony in the home office and chats, the consumption of films, series and other videos is increasing. In Spain and Italy, providers report significantly more data traffic. The Swiss government has already called for fewer videos to be streamed. Videos should only be transmitted with caution, the Ministry of Communications said. “This leaves enough resources free for the important services” – such as voice calls and access to emergency calls. Otherwise, corresponding services would be blocked. However, providers in the EU may not block individual services, but only certain types of services, such as all providers of video streaming. The Commission and Berec now want to monitor data traffic with the national supervisors in order to be able to react in good time. There is currently no “general constipation”.
To prevent this from happening, the Commission tries to persuade it to do so. Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, said on Wednesday that he had talked to Netflix boss Reed Hastings about ways to reduce the burden. He also asked if the image quality could not be automatically reduced from high definition to standard resolution under heavy load. So a blurred image with fewer pixels. The streaming service on Thursday did not want to say whether Netflix would comply. But: For years, people have been concentrating on network efficiency and trying to route videos through the network in a data-efficient manner. Loud Financial Times YouTube also received a similar request from Breton. Experts agree that streaming and online gaming are the main drivers of traffic. But how serious is the situation in Germany?
In the past few days, the German Internet providers Telekom and Vodafone have said that they have no problems, even if the data volume has increased significantly. Both are officially classified as critical infrastructure operators – so they must have pandemic plans ready. Vodafone reports that data usage via the fixed network was 30 percent higher than normal on Wednesday and that it is declining in mobile communications. The Federal Network Agency sees the German providers well equipped.
Some users complain
At the same time, more and more users are complaining online that their connections only work slowly or not at all. This can happen if too many gamble and stare online in a house or a row of houses at the same time. The operator of the world’s largest Internet node DE-Cix in Frankfurt said that the average data traffic had recently increased by ten percent. Always have at least 25 percent additional capacity: “Even if all companies in Europe were to operate exclusively from their home office and the soccer European Championship was also broadcast, the DE-CIX could provide the necessary bandwidth for smooth interconnection.”
However, some providers report problems, such as operators of home office software, which are now groaning under the load of many accesses. Facebook also has problems: CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Wednesday that the use of the network by Corona was stronger than at the turn of the year when masses congratulated each other there. Facebook is working on setting up the infrastructure in such a way that “in a massive outbreak” of the corona virus “in the majority of the states” will not lead to a “meltdown”.