BT, Virgin Media, Vodafone and other UK broadband providers have responded to claims that video streamers, including Netflix and YouTube could put undue strain on internet networks during the coronavirus outbreak, by revealing that their networks have much more capacity than is being used.

BT, for example, revealed that the highest registered daytime peak last week, with many already working from home, didn't even hit half of what the network is capable of.

Its chief technology and information officer, Howard Watson, revealed that peak daytime traffic hit 7.5Tb/s, up from an average of 5Tb/s before the crisis. The system is built to handle more than double that.

The highest peak seen by BT to date, during an evening before the crisis, was 17.5Tb/s – driven by videogame updates/downloads and streaming football.

Basically, the UK can handle HD and 4K Netflix use, other video streaming, online gaming, working from home applications, videoconferencing (which is generally low bandwidth anyway), and more besides.

And that's just BT. Virgin Media's network is similarly robust.

"Despite increased data use on our network, we’re not at capacity and are continuing to provide our customers with the ultrafast and reliable services they expect," said the provider's chief technology and information officer, Jeanie York.

"The coronavirus pandemic has still not pushed up demand to the levels seen during recent computer game releases or when multiple premier league games were streamed simultaneously."

Vodafone also notes that as well as its own broadband infrastructure, mobile data use is within acceptable limits too: "We’ve enough headroom to meet growing demand and to keep the UK connected," it said.

"We are seeing around a 30 per cent increase in internet traffic over our fixed and mobile networks. Also, we’ve seen fixed telephony traffic grow by more than 25 per cent and mobile voice traffic increase by 42 per cent."

So, while the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Disney+ and PlayStation, have agreed to "slow down" and/or reduce the quality of their video streams or download speeds, it is more a cautionary, preemptive move rather than a truly necessary one at present.

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