SAN FRANCISCO -- The World Wide Wait may be coming to an end.
The explosive growth of the World Wide Web in the last five years
has created increasing computer traffic jams as the number of users
has continued to outstrip the hardware and data-network resources on
which the Internet is based.
But now a group of researchers has demonstrated that not all of
the congestion results from the sheer weight of the millions of new
users trying to squeeze onto the Internet. They suggest that a
significant part of the delay has been created by the design of the
software underlying the Web. A study published by the group, based
at the World Wide Web Consortium in Cambridge, Mass., an industry-
sponsored group that sets standards, also shows that a redesign of
that software would improve basic performance on the Web.
The authors of the report were able to demonstrate data retrieval
speeds twice to eight times as fast as the speed using current World
Wide Web software.
Individual users are expected to see improvements like faster
times to download information, and the collective benefit could be
still greater because the basic set of conventions, or protocol, for
Internet operation would be used more efficiently.
Later this year, browsers that support the new protocol are to be
available, though current browsers will continue to work with the
"This will be good for the whole Internet," John Klensin, a
network designer at MCI Communications, said.
The World Wide Web software works in conjunction with the basic
software of the Internet, known as TCP/IP, to permit users to
retrieve data without worrying about where it is on the global
Internet. The Internet consists of a growing collection of software
protocols, and the Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- the "http" at the
beginning of many electronic addresses -- has been the basis of the
World Wide Web since 1990.
"Everyone has known about the problems involving congestion on the
Internet," said Jim Gettys, a Digital Equipment Corporation software
designer who is a visiting scientist at the consortium and is one of
the authors of the study. "What is less well known is that the World
Wide Web protocol has been defeating the congestion control
mechanisms in the Internet's underlying protocols."
Gettys said that the interaction between Web software and the
basic Internet routing software became an issue as Web use
proliferated in recent times. …