COAI urges OTT players to cut bitrates, popup ads to save bandwidth for critical needs; seeks prompt action from DoT

image-COAI-urges-OTT-players-to-cut-bitrates-popup-ads-save-bandwidth-for-troubled-times-MediaBriefTo help ensure smooth functioning of data communications services during these COVID-19-hit times that have enforced virtual lockdowns nationwide and the resultant Work From Home  situation,  the Cellural Operators Association of India (COAI) has written to OTT Platform owners, requesting them to temporarily serve their customers with an SD (Standard Definition) rather than an HD (Hi Definition) streaming feed, so that the broadband needs of both – government services and the population working from home, along with those consuming more video streaming content at their homes.

Not just that, the COAI has also suggested to, and urged the OTT platforms to consider other possible measures to ease the pressure on infrastructure by removing those advertisements and pop ups which usually consume high bandwidth, and if required, replace them  with public announcements on awareness regarding the virus.

COAI @ConnectCOAI urges @NetflixIndia @PrimeVideoIN @Hotstar @ZEE5India @VootSelect @SonyLIV @YouTube @altbalaji @SunN pop-up ads to free bandwidth for more critical digital needs; seeks directive from #departmentoftelecommunication Click To Tweet

In support of its request, COAI has also cited the proactive action by YouTube and Netflix to cut streaming quality in Europe due to the corona virus lockdowns. It also shared media reports that Netflix had announced it would cut its streams’ bitrates for 30 days, and thereby reduce by about one fourth its traffic on European networks.

 It is pertinent to note that the need of the hour is that companies offering streaming platform service and TSPs take joint responsibility to take steps to ensure smooth functioning of the data communication networks to align with other measures being taken in this battle to curb the propagation of the virus: COAI

COAI urges DoT to take prompt action, issue directive

COAI has also sent a separate letter to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), urging it to issue a directive to the Video Streaming companies on the same lines, and has attached a list of the video streaming platforms for the benefit of the DoT. “We believe this (COAI’s request to the streaming platforms) will be more effective if a similar communication is sent from DoT to these companies offering streaming video services. A list along with their details is also enclosed for your ready reference.” COAI has sought “a quick action on this” from DoT.

The OTT platforms named by the COAI are Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Hotstar, ZEE5, Alt Balaji, Voot, Sony Liv, Viuclip, Hoichoi, Netflix AND SunNXT, with Voot named twice; probably for Voot Select and Voot

It remains to be seen if the DoT will indeed write to the OTT Players, or if any of the OTT players will go ahead and honour COAI’s request on the streaming quality, at least, without waiting for the DoT directive COAI has sought. We don’t think any OTT Platform would want to argue with COAI’s iteration of the need to prioritize for the greater good at this critical time 

COAI’s persuasive plea to the OTT platforms…

In its note to the OTT Platforms, COAI has said: “It is pertinent to note that the need of the hour is that companies offering streaming platform service and TSPs take joint responsibility to take steps to ensure smooth functioning of the data communication networks to align with other measures being taken in this battle to curb the propagation of the virus.

“This joint action from all of us to suitably the pressure on infrastructure and to facilitate remote working, online education, digital healthcare, payments and other critical services at a time of region-wide public health crisis would go a long way in helping the citizens and country at large,” the COAI note to the OTT Platforms reads.

…and an urgent request to DoT

In its note to the DoT, COAI has written: “As you are aware, in the past few days, in India too, advisories have been issued by various Government agencies including social distancing, restrictions in terms of work place, also encouraging Work From Home (WFH), online/ digital education, digital payments/ transactions, online healthcare, wherever possible and other critical requirements to be met through digital means, which is putting pressure on the network infrastructure of the telecom service providers.

“Also, due to lockdown/ quarantine measures in various parts of the country, a sudden surge in demand for online video streaming is also expected to rise substantially. We believe that during this critical time, it is absolutely essential for the streaming platforms to cooperate with telecom providers so as to manage the traffic distribution patterns which are likely to strain the network infrastructure at a time when it is needed for various critical requirements.

“In this regard, we have already written to the streaming platforms to undertake technical measures to ease the pressure on infrastructure. A copy of our communication to them is enclosed herewith.

“We believe this will be more effective if a similar communication is sent from DoT to these companies offering streaming video services. A list along with their details is also enclosed for your ready reference.

“A quick action from DoT on this is highly appreciated,” the letter to Dot concludes.

An outreach for support

COAI’s approach to the OTT players is an outreach “for your support,” where it says, there has been a sudden surge in digital use, triggered by the “advisories (by) various  Government agencies including social distancing, restrictions in terms of workplace, also encouraging Work From Home (WFH), online/ digital education, digital payments/ transactions, online healthcare, wherever possible and other critical requirements to be met through digital means”.

“This sudden surge in digital use is already putting pressure on the network infrastructure of the Telecom Service Providers (TSPs),” COAI writes, adding that while the TSPs are taking requisite steps to manage the load and facilitate smooth functioning of the networks, “Due to lockdown/ quarantine measures in various parts of the country, a sudden surge in demand for online video streaming is also expected to rise substantially”.

“We believe,” COAI has written, “that during this critical time, it is absolutely essential for the streaming platforms to cooperate with TSPs so as to manage the traffic distribution patterns which are likely to strain the network infrastructure at a time when it is needed for various critical requirements.”

‘Here’s how’, COAI seems to be telling the OTT platforms

And here, in its entirety, is what COAI has suggested OTT Platforms could do to help at this critical time: “We understand that there are various measures that the streaming platform companies can undertake in this present situation to continue to provide a suitable level of service to their customers at the most appropriate bitrate required, one such measure being temporarily moving to SD (Standard Definition) rather than HD (Hi Definition) streaming.

“We understand that there may be other such technical measures that may be taken to ease the pressure on infrastructure. Also, during this period, advertisements and pop ups, which usually consume high bandwidth should be removed and if required, may be replaced with public announcements on awareness regarding the virus.

“It is pertinent to note,” writes the COAI,  “that the need of the hour is that companies offering streaming platform service and TSPs take joint responsibility to take steps to ensure smooth functioning of the data communication networks to align with other measures being taken in this battle to curb the propagation of the virus.

“This joint action from all of us to suitably the pressure on infrastructure and to facilitate remote working, online education, digital healthcare, payments and other critical services at a time of region-wide public health crisis would go a long way in helping the citizens and country at large.”

image-MXPlayer-Ad-to-Support-Janata-Curfew-MediaBrief-COAI storyWe don’t know if any OTT Platform in India could or would want to argue with that. It remains to be seen if the DoT will indeed write to the OTT Players, or if any of the players will go ahead and honour COAI’s request on the streaming quality, at least, without waiting for the DoT directive COAI has sought.

Whatever happens, the fact remains that the unfortunate corona virus lockdowns, while possibly lethal for many businesses, will actually boost the category of video streaming no end.  So expect the kind of large display ads in print, like the one from MX Player in its family publication The Times Of India today, to continue. Especially from the AVOD players/sections.

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