When the topic of boosting Internet speed comes up, most of the discussion is focused on increasing the footprint of fiber optic networks or improving the hardware behind the existing wired and wireless grids. At your residence, you enjoy many options for improving the performance of your own wireless network. A recent protocol innovation — something largely based in software — brings the potential for a 30 percent across the board speed improvement.
Let’s take a closer look at this new Internet protocol, and when you can expect to reap its benefits while streaming a video at home.
Current Internet Protocol Developed in 1974
Akamai, a company operating a giant server network that makes up a significant portion of the Internet’s “backbone” is working on something called “Giga,” a new protocol aimed at boosting the transmission of Internet data by 30 percent. Giga would replace the original TCP Internet protocol, which was first developed in 1974. The company plans on releasing the new protocol to other Internet technology companies in the hopes that wide adoption becomes an industry standard.
The average 30 percent improvement in Internet speed was highlighted by an over 150 percent boost in countries like India and China. Even though testers in Germany only saw a speed increase of a few percentage points, this overall speed boost bodes well for the technology’s eventual adoption.
Improving Speed Over Existing Internet Connections
Since Giga essentially replaces TCP, the new protocol improves speed over an existing Internet connection. Considering the migration towards streaming 4K video, this technology is necessary as 1 Gbps service becomes more available across the country. Bottlenecks sometimes occur at the network backbone level.
The speed improvements of this new protocol come in a myriad of ways. First, Giga is better able to detect the current capacity of existing routes, unlike TCP which would spend time trying to find a new route when the current one still had room. Also, enhanced encoding reduces the number of dropped packets, a common problem hampering Internet data transmission.
Even though the new protocol works over existing Internet connections, current devices — from modems to routers to smartphones — will need modification to support Giga. Akamai hopes to combine Giga with QUIC a technology included in Chrome and other Google products helping to prevent video buffering.
Wide industry adoption of Giga still looks to be at least a few years out, so, in the meantime, regularly check your own Internet speed to ensure your ISP is giving you the bandwidth you pay for each month.