THE NATIONAL Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said multinational technology company Google LLC, online entertainment services provider iflix Sdn. Bhd. and ABS-CBN Corp.’s iWant have agreed to reduce their streaming bitrates to help ease data congestion in the country as more people are now working and studying from home due to the government-imposed community quarantine period.

The NTC said in a statement issued over the weekend that iflix, iWant, and Google, which operates online video-sharing platform Youtube, heeded its call for video streaming companies to work with the government during the lockdown period “by effectively and efficiently managing their streaming bitrates.”

“This means more bandwidth will be freed-up to ease data congestion due to the work from home arrangements as well as increased government, private and education demands during the Enhanced Community Quarantine [period],” it added.

It said Google will shift YouTube’s default definition setting “from High Definition (HD) to Standard Definition (SD) on all types of network connections — mobile or broadband.”

As for iflix, the NTC said: “No content is now being streamed at 4k resolution.”

“iflix also claimed that it has one of the least (if not the least) amount of data usage per streaming minute relative to all other platforms,” it added.

ABS-CBN’s iWant will reduce its streaming bitrate by 33% beginning March 27, the NTC also said.

Last week, the NTC said US media-services provider Netflix Pte Ltd. conveyed “solidarity and support to the Philippine government’s efforts, recognizing that the Internet should continue to run smoothly at this time.”

It said Netflix developed a way to reduce its traffic on telecommunications networks “by 25% while maintaining the quality” of its service.

“Netflix’s move will provide significant relief to congested networks for the next 30 days,” the NTC said.

Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Undersecretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. has said the improved services by telecommunications companies have helped cushion the impact of the pandemic on their operations.

The DICT official noted the Philippines has one of the lowest tower densities in Asia, which means Internet congestion is normal during the lockdown period.

Telco service providers have been seeking to ensure continuity of operations to handle the surge of users working from home during the lockdown period. — Arjay L. Balinbin