News that Netflix is finally available in Malta was enthusiastically welcomed by some while putting others, like television service providers, on their toes.

The world’s leading internet television network, with over 70 million members, announced it has now gone live almost all over the world, including Malta.

Film buffs love it but there is scepticism among those who already stream films on their android boxes at no cost.

While Netflix provides access to a library of films, documentaries and TV series that can be streamed from €7.99 monthly, an android box usually uses pre-installed software to stream films and TV programmes.

Both are dependent on a stable internet connection that is capable of streaming films and the traditional android boxes only need to have the Netflix app installed to benefit from the service.

Android box users had, in the past, complained they could not use their devices because of low internet speeds and the issue could persist with the uptake of this new service as demand is expected to increase.

According to IT professional Karl Saliba, as with any other service that is being streamed, there could still be bandwidth issues because internet service providers naturally tend to oversubscribe beyond their capacity. This means that, with widespread subscription to Netflix, there could be a degradation of internet services.

In theory, both Netflix subscribers and android box users could have the same issues because the nature of both services is ultimately streaming.

However, since the legality of android boxes is still a grey area, and Netflix is legal, subscribers could turn to Netflix customer support channels with their troubles, he noted. Donald Tabone, CTO at Allied Group, noted that if the uptake of Netflix were very high, there could still be bandwidth issues at peak times due to heavy demand in high density areas. As a consequence, there would be streaming issues.

Users also need to keep in mind the distance between their modem or router and their streaming device. The further away, the weaker the signal and the slower the connection speed. Asked about the difference between streaming a film through a free software service on an android box and watching it on Netflix, Mr Tabone said the latter certainly made the mark since it was legal and had a robust infrastructure to keep up with global demand. Depending on the uptake of Netflix, ISPs might have to upgrade their infrastructure to keep up with demand.

This latest development is likely to affect TV service providers. Despite not having live TV, Netflix is cheaper and offers varied and exclusive content.

When the news broke some social media users said they would be bidding farewell to their local TV service providers.

A Facebook group was set up for Netflix users and a page set up by an enthusiast in 2014, called Netflix Malta, saw a surge in followers.

Sean Spiteri, who took over the page a couple of months ago to petition the company to start providing the streaming service in Malta, noted that Netflix was attractive because the service was legal, unlike torrent films, while the network also had its own exclusive TV series such as Daredevil and Jessica Jones.

Mr Spiteri said the service would be most popular with the younger generation and, considering it was cheap, legal and streamed in HD, “it was a no-brainer” that he would rather watch films and TV series on Netflix.

MELITA WELCOMES NETFLIX

In a statement this morning, Melita welcomed the introduction of Netflix and any other similar streaming or content provider that used legal channels to provide entertainment content to Maltese customers.

“The presence of Netflix and similar providers in Malta increases choice for local customers and addresses a gap in the market that has been forcing customers to opt for illegal and unsecure platforms to access entertainment and other video content.

“Netflix, and other streaming services like it, are complementary to Melita’s traditional TV services that provide continuous broadcast of thematic shows,” it said.

Melita said that high quality streaming of Netflix used continuous large portions of bandwidth.

Users of streaming services, who would typically also use multiple devices such as smart phones, laptops and tablets, were advised to opt for packages with download speeds of at least 50 megabits per second.

Such packages were designed to cater robustly for streaming services.

“Netflix offers streaming possibilities on almost all devices, over fixed or Wifi connections.

“MelitaWifi is the next generation Wifi service accessible for free by all Melita customers subscribed to internet services or mobile contract plans,” the company said.