Last week, YouTube announced that it is switching its stream to SD quality worldwide to avoid network congestion. Other major video streaming services also announced a similar reduction in their streaming quality as they see a rise in demand following the COVID-19 outbreak which has led to major countries being locked down. YouTube was only switching its streaming quality to 480p by default and users had the option to manually bump it to higher resolutions. In India though, YouTube seems to have gone a step ahead and restricted the maximum video streaming quality to 480p.
As reported by XDA-Developers, YouTube has imposed this measure in select densely populated cities of India like Mumbai and Delhi. The restriction on streaming quality is there irrespective of whether one tries to stream the video while on mobile data or Wi-Fi. The limit is also in place for YouTube Premium subscribers in the country. The restriction is not there in other smaller cities and states, though it is possible that the limitation will come into effect gradually.
The restriction is only there while streaming videos on mobile. YouTube users in India can still stream videos in 720p or higher resolution on their desktop, laptop, or tablets. It seems YouTube has taken this step to reduce network congestion. The country of over 1.3 billion people went into a lockdown of 21 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic last week. This is going to put a lot of strain on the country's network infrastructure as people will stream more content in their free time.