Why your web surfing will get faster within weeks

WASHINGTON — Surfing the web is about to get noticeably faster, with the biggest overhaul to how browsers connect to the web since 1999.

Most people have no idea what Hypertext Transfer Protocol is, but know it as the “http://” they type at the beginning of a web address.

“The last time anything was done to HTTP, most of us were still connecting to the Internet through 56K modems,” says Ken Colburn, of Data Doctors.

Created in 1991, and updated to HTTP.1.1 in 1999, the web of yesteryear was filled with text and few graphics.

Now, media-rich websites using images, Javascript code, Flash and other elements, make for a more vivid user experience, but it’s increasingly taxing on servers.

“The current protocol just can’t handle the load,” says Colburn.

Recently approved by the Internet Engineering Task Force, HTTP/2 is in final editing and will be published within the next few weeks, The Conversation blog reports.

HTTP/2 will speed browsing up by using new ways of transporting data between the browser and server across the Internet.

Colburn offers an example of how the new protocol will be faster than the current one.

“Think about when you go to Starbucks to order for a lot of people at your office,” says Colburn. “The current protocol requires you to order the first cup of coffee, have them make it, give it to you, you confirm it’s proper, then you order the next cup of coffee.”

Browsers using HTTP/2 will be able to request more than one piece of data at a time from a single site, or make requests from multiple sites.

“The new protocol will allow you to order all the cups of coffee at the same time,” says Colburn.

Colburn says the changes will be even more apparent on mobile devices than desktop computers.

Users won’t have to do anything different to use HTTP/2.

The address bar will still read “http://,” and browsers will switch automatically between versions 1 and 2.

Once HTTP/2 is published, it will be up to websites and hosting services to implement the new standard.

The secure version, HTTPS, will continue to work, and companies will be able to us HTTP/2 with an improved transport layer security which was standardized in 2008.

May 24, 2024 | (Neal Augenstein)


Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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