As YouTube defaults to SD worldwide, Ofcom offers connectivity top tips

With everyone stuck at home for the foreseeable future coz of coronavirus, telecoms capacity has become front page news.

Google-owned YouTube, the dominant social video platform for most of the world, has announced that it has set the default resolution for all video playback worldwide to standard definition. “Last week, we temporarily defaulted all videos on YouTube to standard definition in the European Union, United Kingdom, and Switzerland,” said the support update. “Given the global nature of this crisis, we are expanding that change globally starting today. This update is slowly rolling out, and users can manually adjust the video quality.”

The European move was matched by Netflix but they weren’t joking about the slow rollout. SD presumably means 480p and below, but our videos are still defaulting to 1080p in many cases. Since the UK has supposedly been restricted for a week, you have to wonder how long this fairly small concession will take to implement.

In the mean time Ofcom has published some top tips for ‘helping broadband and mobile users stay connected’. You can read them in full here, but in case you lack the bandwidth to do so here’s a summary:

  1. Use your landline or wifi calls if you can
  2. Move your router clear of other devices
  3. Lower the demands on your connection
  4. Try wired rather than wireless
  5. Plug your router directly into your main phone socket
  6. Test the speed on your broadband line
  7. Get advice from your broadband provider

“Right now we need people to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives,” said Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden. “Reliable internet speeds will be crucial so we can work from home where possible, stay connected with our families and keep up to date with the latest health information. I urge everyone to read Ofcom’s helpful tips and advice to ensure they get the most out of their broadband and mobile internet connections during these unprecedented times.”

“Families across the country are going online together this week, often juggling work and keeping children busy at the same time,” said Melanie Dawes, Ofcom Chief Executive. “So we’re encouraging people to read our advice on getting the most from their broadband, home phones and mobiles – and to share it with friends, families and colleagues, to help them stay connected too.”

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