HTTP/2: New infrastructure for the internet is ready, and could speed up the web for everyone

New protocol will fundamentally change the way that computers connect to the internet

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 18 February 2015 16:11
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The internet will get faster for everyone — wherever you are
The internet will get faster for everyone — wherever you are

HTTP/2, a new version of the protocol that lets computers download information from the internet, has been formally approved and could speed up the web for everyone.

The group behind the protocol announced this morning that work on the specification is done, and that it will now be checked over and published. It is based on a protocol made by Google, called SPDY and pronounced “speedy”, which has already been speeding up the internet for many users without them knowing it.

HTTP/2 and SPDY both help browsing move quicker by streamlining the way that browsers make requests to servers, allowing them to ask for a number of things at once. The Verge compared the advance with the ability to put a number of things in one envelope, rather than being forced to send a separate envelope each time.

SPDY is already integrated into Chrome, Internet Explorer and Firefox. Big websites including Google itself, along with Twitter and Facebook, use the protocol to speed up connections on compatible browsers.

HTTP/2 will bring the technologies that allow the protocol to work to everyone, over time.

It will also introduce safer ways of browsing. While the group behind the protocol said that it couldn’t build encryption into the protocol, Firefox and Chrome have already said that in order to use it, websites will have to make sure that their sites are properly encrypted anyway.

HTTP was introduced in the 1990s as a way of allowing browsers to request information from the servers that host websites. It has been steadily improved since then, but HTTP/2 introduces perhaps the biggest changes since it was first introduced.

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