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European Netflix customers are still seeing lower-quality video, slow speed

Netflix is still reducing video bitrates for its European users nearly two months after lowering bandwidth by 25% in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the company is still charging different rates for different video quality levels, angering some customers who are experiencing degraded video quality, blurring, and pixelation.

Netflix subscription plans in the EU include lower-tier, standard-definition streaming; two standard tiers for high-definition; and a premium plan for Ultra HD. All users still being charged at their existing levels despite seeing almost 50% reductions in bitrates.

In recent weeks, Reddit and Twitter have been filling up with European customers’ complaints, including a screenshot from a customer in Spain indicating internet speeds of just 0.51Mbps for an HD stream. Netflix itself recommends 5Mbps minimum for HD.

@Netflixhelps what's the point of having 1080p resolution with this ridiculous bitrate? The quality is really bad. pic.twitter.com/JN8HgO1lIA

— Juan Jesús (@juanjetomas) May 10, 2020

The company initially throttled its bitrates in March at the request of the European Union, which was concerned that increased internet usage during lockdowns would overwhelm ISPs. Other companies, including YouTube, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video, agreed to throttle speeds as well. However, according to the EU’s telecom agency, European internet networks seemed to be able to handle the increased load with minimal disruptions.

Netflix did not immediately respond to being asked when it would return bitrates to normal or whether HD and Ultra HD customers may be refunded, but told Variety: “As network conditions improve, we will begin lifting the bitrate caps we introduced in March on a country-by-country basis.”

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Mythili Sampathkumar
Mythili is a freelance journalist based in New York. When not reporting about politics, foreign policy, entertainment, and…
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