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Google's faster internet standard has become a de facto standard

One of Google's many efforts to speed up the Internet is now available to everyone. And that's after one of the foundations of the Internet got an upgrade. Quic, a protocol for transferring data between computers, improves the speed and security of the Internet. It could replace the Transmission Control Protocol, or TCP, a standard dating back to 1974.

Earlier this week, the IETF, which sets many standards for the World Wide Web, published Quic as a standard. Web browsers and online services have been testing the technology for years, but the IETF statement is a sign that the standard is mature enough to fully embrace it. And it is very difficult to improve the Internet at the basic level of data transmission. Countless hardware, software, and services are designed to use decades-old infrastructure.

Quic has been in general development for nearly eight years since Google first announced Quic in 2013 as an experimental extension for Google Chrome. But internet foundation upgrades are critical to keeping global communications and the backbone of commerce thriving. That's why engineers put so much effort into giant transitions, like Quic, HTTPS, and IPv6.

Quic from Google

In a 2017 research paper on Quic, Google said its internal version of the technology had cut waiting for web search results by 8 percent on computers and 4 percent on phones. The time people spend waiting for the video to be played on YouTube decreased by 18 percent for computer usersand 15 percent for mobile users.

TCP upgrade

Transmission control protocol controls how data is sent from one computer to another over the Internet. TCP and Quic work alongside another basic standard, IP, which is short for Internet Protocol.

TCP controls how data is divided into individually processed packets, sent through the Internet's routing infrastructure, and then reassembled at the other end of the connection. TCP's mission is to make the Internet flexible enough to withstand nuclear attacks.

Among other things, TCP handles how connections are established and how to retrieve data packets lost during transmission. And Quic is designed to do the same things, but better.

It shares the choice of another Internet standard, called UDP (User Datagram Protocol), which is faster than TCP. But it lacks a TCP mechanism to recover lost packets.

Quic has its own separate recovery mechanism that is faster than TCP. Quic is also faster at setting up encrypted connections, which is an important consideration because Quic is the basis for the HTTP standard your browser uses to fetch web pages. On the full scale of the Internet, few delays add to the big problem.

And Quic should handle network changes more flexibly, such as when you leave your home wireless network and start using your phone's cellular network.


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