YouTube has removed its 480p bitrate cap in India for phones on WiFi networks on Thursday morning, we were able to confirm — (hat tip: @SAZORITE). This relaxation comes over 100 days after YouTube first capped video on its mobile apps to 480p at the urging of the Cellular Operators Association of India. It took the company this much time to get the bright idea that wireline ISPs, which have much more bandwidth per user than wireless telecom operators, do not need this limitation. Indeed, wireline operators never requested it, something we reported in May and June. We have asked the company why it acted so late when wireline broadband companies categorically stated that they do not need these restrictions.
Netflix lifted its bitrate restrictions late June, and they too had their bitrate limits on both wireline and wireless internet users. In March, practically every large streaming service united, under pressure from the telecom secretary and the Cellular Operators Association of India, to reduce the quality of the video they streamed in the aftermath of the COVID-19 lockdown, either by streaming high-resolution videos at lower bitrates, or by eliminating the option to stream high quality video altogether, as YouTube did for mobile platforms.
In the days following the ban, it became evident that this reaction was not required. Even on mobile networks, traffic had surged only by 15%, but the COAI only dropped its industry-wide demand to OTT platforms to reduce quality by early June. In remarks and a filing to TRAI, MediaNama has argued that this months-long limitation was an unreasonable traffic management practice ordered by ISPs (albeit not carried out within their networks). Traffic management practices — a Net Neutrality consideration that looks at how internet providers deal with traffic when they are faced with congestion — is something TRAI is currently holding a consultation process on.