THE Philippines’ telecommunications commission has asked US media-services provider Netflix to “efficiently manage” its streaming bit rates to ease data congestion as the Luzon-wide lockdown to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has slowed Internet speeds due to a surge in users.
In a statement on Wednesday, the National Telecommunications Commission said Netflix Pte Ltd. had already responded to its request.
“[Netflix] conveyed solidarity and support to the Philippine government’s efforts, recognizing that the internet should continue to run smoothly at this time,” the commission said.
“Netflix also developed a way to reduce its traffic on telecommunications networks by 25% while maintaining the quality of service. Netflix added that its consumers should continue to get the quality that comes with their plan — whether it’s Ultra-High, High or Standard Definition. Netflix’s move will provide significant relief to congested networks for the next 30 days,” it added.
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 COVID-19 outbreak on their operations.
Telco service providers have been seeking to ensure continuity of operations to handle the surge of users working from home during the lockdown period.
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.
Mr. Rio also asked the public to be patient in the event of outages caused by congestion.
“Our infrastructure is not enough but the department has done something about it. For example, we started adding common towers this year. But it takes time to build towers. Perhaps, we have added 400 towers all over the country,” he said in a recent interview.
The DICT has been pushing for telcos to share infrastructure since 2017.
The government is hoping 50,000 shareable towers will be built within the next seven to 10 years to close the tower density gap with neighboring countries. — Arjay L. Balinbin