Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Netflix at home

Media services may limit bandwidth, but will it affect 4K Ultra HD streams?

Using your broadband connection to get an Ultra HD picture to your 4K UHD TV? You might be wondering if you’re still getting the right quality amidst bandwidth shaping.

With all that’s going on in the world and how many of us are reliant on the internet at home, now more than ever we need our internet connections to be stable. There are lots of things we have that are using those network connections, and it’s causing a strain on our connectivity, because we’re now at home even more and all using it at roughly the same time.

It’s not just happening here in Australia, but all around the world, and it’s caused a bit of a stir online, as governments request the download sizes to be reduced from the media streaming services we rely on.

To do that, media streaming companies are making efforts to reduce the bitrate for streams, which provides a slight reduction in quality for video streams.

You’ll notice it on standard definition and high definition accounts, and it’s also on Ultra HD accounts, which means a reduction in quality is expected, though it might not be something you’ll notice entirely. In fact according to Netflix, you should still get the quality you’ve paid for, even if the bandwidth has dropped.

“Given the crisis, we’ve developed a way to reduce Netflix’s traffic on telecommunications networks by 25% while also maintaining the quality of our service,” said Ken Florence, Vice President of Content Delivery at Netflix.

“So, consumers should continue to get the quality that comes with their plan – whether it’s Ultra-High, High or Standard Definition,” he said. “We believe that this will provide significant relief to congested networks and will be deploying it in Australia for the next 30 days.”

It’s something that will likely affect all the streaming services in Australia, with Stan doing something similar.

While we’ve not checked with Disney or Amazon, Stan has committed to efficiency in bandwidth and quality, too. A spokesperson for Stan told Pickr that “Stan is engaged with the Government and NBN Co to ensure that our content is delivered to consumers with the most efficient use of bandwidth while continuing to deliver the quality levels that are consistent with each of our plans”.

So what does this mean for you?

Will my Netflix quality stay the same?

Short answer: somewhat.

Longer answer: no, but you may not notice the changes.

A reduction in bitrate to improve bandwidth changes the file size and quality, dropping aspects from the file. That may mean parts of the video stream will appear more blocky, while darker colours could show a degree of pixelation more.

Theoretically it shouldn’t affect the size, and should mean that whether you’re on standard definition, Full HD 1080p, or 4K Ultra HD, the resolution will technically be accounted for, even if the quality of the file and stream has dropped slightly .

However throughout the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis when we’re all at home, there’s a likelihood that this will be part of the situation, so while it will happen now and for the next few months, it shouldn’t be like this permanently.

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