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Google Will Propose QUIC As IETF Standard

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Google has recently announced that they will propose their experimental transport layer network protocol QUIC as a IETF Standard. Furthermore. Google has provided the first available figures about the improvements in page load time that QUIC makes possible.

Since QUIC introduction in 2013, Google has been increasing the amount of traffic that Google services serve over QUIC. According to Google, “today, roughly half of all requests from Chrome to Google servers are served over QUIC,” and this will lead to making QUIC the “default transport from Google clients — both Chrome and mobile apps — to Google servers.”

Google also adds that their performance analysis at scale revealed that “QUIC provides a real performance improvement over TCP.” This is related to QUIC’s:

  • Lower-latency connection establishment, which benefits already established connections. In this case, Google has measured a 3% improvement in mean page load time with Google Search.
  • Improved congestion control and loss recovery, which is particularly relevant under poor network conditions. In this case, Google has measured a full second decrease in Google Search page load time “for the slowest 1% of connections,” and up to 30% fewer rebuffers when watching YouTube videos over QUIC.

QUIC is a protocol that Google created in an effort to reduce TCP web latency. QUIC is built on top of UDP, since, according to Google, “making significant changes to TCP is next to impossible” due to it being implemented in OS kernels and firmware.

A commenter on Hacker News pointed out that Google has succeeded in quietly moving “a large user base from open protocols to a proprietary protocol”, which is in itself a display of the power coming from controlling both hugely successful services and the dominant web browser, and that this might be worrying in case Google decided to delay the standardization process or not pursue it at all. Other commenters in the same thread pointed out that Google’s process about QUIC is open and that anyone can contribute to QUIC’s definition and development through its news group. Finally, it must be also noted that Chrome support for QUIC can be easily disabled by the end-user.

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