With work-from-home in effect, ISP and OTT giants struggle to keep up with the increased usage

Updated: Mar 26, 2020, 08:05 IST | Mohar Basu | Mumbai

As Internet usage increases due to work-from-home policy, binge-watching; providers increase bandwidth, OTT giants reduce bit rates.

Varun Dhawan's Street Dancer 3D
Varun Dhawan's Street Dancer 3D

If you've been working from home over the past few days, chances are you've made frantic calls to the customer care department of your Internet service provider to complain about the reduced speed. With a large part of the population adopting work-from-home policy and turning to Netflix or Amazon Prime to unwind, the Internet Service Providers (ISP) across the board have been struggling to keep up with the increased usage.

In the first step to reducing the bandwidth usage, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) wrote to OTT giants to forgo their HD option, last week. Netflix India, Amazon Prime and Hotstar, among others, promptly complied with the request. The official spokesperson of Amazon Prime states, "We are working with mobile and ISP to help mitigate network congestion. We've already begun the effort to reduce streaming bit rates."

Netflix’s latest offering She (above left) has grabbed eyeballs
Netflix's latest offering She has grabbed eyeballs

However, that has brought little relief to the ISP as online traffic has risen substantially and the OTT players have kept the momentum going with relevant shows and new releases on offer. While The Test has been trending on Amazon Prime, there is also renewed interest in the 2011 movie, Contagion, which mirrors the current situation. Varun Dhawan's Street Dancer 3D, which failed to set the box office on fire, found many takers when it dropped online earlier this month. Similarly, Netflix has seen high viewer engagement in the case of She, Guilty and Pandemic. A source from a streaming platform explains, "The time spent on an OTT platform has gone up by three hours on an average, globally."

Amazon Prime Video has witnessed renewed interest in the 2011 movie, Contagion
Amazon Prime Video has witnessed a renewed interest in the 2011 movie, Contagion 

With a drastic shift in consumer usage patterns, Internet providers will have to take adequate measures. "Each service provider will have to increase their bandwidth. But with networks offering special work-from-home plans, the pressure is only increasing."

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