Netflix CEO talks with EU commissioner about coronavirus internet lag

Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of Netflix, attends a meeting with France’s President Emmanuel Macron during the “Choose France” summit, at the Chateau de Versailles, outside Paris, France, January 20, 2020.

Benoit Tessier | Pool | Reuters

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings spoke with EU Internal Market and Services Commissioner Thierry Breton by phone to discuss how to keep the internet running smoothly as the coronavirus pandemic forces more daily activities to move online.

Breton disclosed the conversation in a tweet Wednesday, suggesting users “#SwitchToStandard definition when HD is not necessary.”

As attempts to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus shuts down more and more cities and move work online, a speedy internet connection feels more precious than ever. A Commission official told Politico that Breton and Hastings discussed ways to prevent internet congestion, such as creating a temporary feature that would automatically switch users to standard definition streaming during high traffic hours. Breton and Hastings will speak again in the coming days, according to Politico.

“Streaming platforms, telecom operators and users, we all have a joint responsibility to take steps to ensure the smooth functioning of the internet during the battle against the virus propagation,” Breton said in a statement to Politico. Representatives for Breton and Netflix did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.

In the U.S., telecommunications companies and the Federal Communications Commission have taken steps to try to secure internet service and keep consumers from paying high costs during the crisis. Several companies, including the four major telecom services, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint, took the FCC’s “Keep Americans Connected Pledge.” These companies have agreed that for 60 days from last Friday, they will not to end service for individual or small business customers who aren’t able to pay due to the coronavirus, they will waive late fees incurred because of the pandemic and open Wi-Fi hotspots to Americans in need.

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