Google Is Experimenting With TCP To Give A Faster Web Experience

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Google is testing ways to cut the latency in TCP connections that Web browsers make to request and retrieve data

It is no secret that it befits Google  to support efforts to make the Web faster, as a faster Web means the company can serve more searches, YouTube videos, and other content.

Google, which built a Domain Name System to help Web pages load faster, is looking at other ways of accelerating data packets traversing the Internet between computers and servers.

TCP latency reduction

The company is experimenting with the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), the method by which the Internet facilitates data from Web pages, applications and other content sources from one network device to the next.

Today’s Web browsers open dozens of parallel TCP connections to make data requests, a practice that generates a great degree of latency, or sluggish data transfer. Engineers for Google’s Make the Web Faster team have come up with ways to save the round trips of TCP connections. Google’s work on TCP is available via open source.

First, Google has increased TCP initial congestion window to 10 (IW10), which the company claimed shaved network latency of data transfers by more than 10 percent. Google also reduced the initial timeout from three seconds to a second. For a deep dive into the technical workings of this approach click here.

Google is also  testing the TCP Fast Open (TFO) approach, which it said reduces page load time by 10 percent on average, and as much as 40 percent in other instances.

Another approach Google is taking is the Proportional Rate Reduction for TCP (PRR), a new loss recovery algorithm that  retransmits smoothly to recover losses during network congestion. Google explained that this algorithm is faster than the current mechanism by tweaking the transmission rate according to the degree of losses. PRR is in the process of becoming part of the TCP standard.

Finally, Google said it is developing algorithms to recover faster on “noisy mobile networks”, along with a two milliseconds round trip time (RTT) delivery during startup. Ars Technica has a detailed explanation of Google’s TCP moves.

Why does Google want to speed up the Web to serve more searches, videos and other content? Advertising. If Google can serve more content, it can match more ads to that content, which means more money for a company where online ads comprise 97 percent of its revenue each year.

Google’s search ad business growth has slowed, and so the company is focused on serving more display ads via YouTube, as well as more search, display and in-application ads via its Android mobile platform.

All of these efforts are threatened by Facebook, whose social network presents a powerful walled garden where the company can target its 800 million-plus users with social ads. That means a lot of money Google cannot tap into (Google+ has yet to either reach scale or be monetised effectively), which is why improving the existing Web experiences for its users is paramount.

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