http3 - 2019 in tech

HTTP3 is coming with some changes

Unless you’re into this sort of stuff, you probably didn’t know that there are different versions of Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), the standard communications protocol of the internet. What has been used on the web is version 1.0, 1.1 and 2. This is the basic network protocol that defines how web browsers talk to web servers over the internet. HTTP is one common language that all of the internet shares. But there are always improvements to be made, and this is where HTTP3 comes in.


To give a bit of background, all of the current and original parts of HTTP are built as layers upon the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). TCP is one of the core components of the Internet Protocol (IP) which allows any sort of communications in a network such as the internet. TCP is a jack-of-all trades, reliable and functional beast, and has been a basic component of the internet since it was invented. It even checks for data errors during transmission. However, it was never designed to be a master of any particular scenario.


Google has been working on new protocols in an effort to speed up internet connections. Such protocols would have to be purpose built with that in mind and could come in HTTP3. In particular, Google has been building something called Quick UDP Internet Connections (QUIC). Rather than TCP, UDP builds upon the User Datagram Protocol (UDP). It’s the opposite of TCP in many ways. First and foremost, it doesn’t actually do error checking and is therefore seen to be unreliable. On the other hand, it’s very simple and quick to use.


However, QUIC will reinstate a lot of the features of TCP, particularly the reliability of data transfers. It would also reduce the number of round trips required for things to be done, thus speeding things up and reducing latency. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has also been collaborating to work on a standard version of QUIC, though it might end up very different to the original Google version. Either way, it would appear that QUIC will become the main standard communications protocol in HTTP3 and make things quicker around the web.

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