Update: November 5, 2020 (09:00 PM ET): Android Police reports that mobile YouTube users in India can now go back to streaming videos at 720p, 1080p, and even 2K resolutions. Previously, this was only possible on Wi-Fi, but now can be done on cellular connections, too. In other words, no matter how you are watching YouTube on your phone in India, you are no longer locked to 480p.
Original article: March 24, 2020 (12:20 PM ET): Out of concern for keeping the rising internet traffic clear of congestion during the coronavirus outbreak, Google is making some changes to YouTube. Starting today, the video streaming service will cut the streaming quality default down to standard definition (480p) resolution for at least a month.
Bloomberg reports that, according to a company spokesperson, Google has seen high traffic on YouTube throughout the day since the coronavirus crisis began, rather than just traffic spikes in the evening. This is, of course, due to the fact that many people are either working from home or are simply stuck inside due to government requests to keep them at home. YouTube previously said it would cut down on its video streaming quality to Europe, along with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney Plus. Now it’s going into effect for everybody.
Google says that it doesn’t believe that the world is in danger of truly breaking the internet with an increase in the use of streaming services like YouTube. However, it made the decision to set the default setting back to SD resolution out of both caution as well as some concerns from government officials.