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New Transport Protocols


New Transport Protocols

Jessica Berg, Sam Shih, Kevin Webb

Today’s Internet is limited in its modern uses because it uses only two
ways to access the internet from the operating system, both of which were
built in the 1980’s.  At that time, no one could have foreseen the changing
needs of modern Internet applications.

Newer transport protocols, or rules that govern communication across the
Internet, have been developed to provide services that better fit the needs
of today, such as optimizations for smartphones, security, video streaming,
and wifi.  However, they are not widely used because to communicate in a
new protocol, talking hosts must agree on the protocol a priori, which
introduces significant latency. So for the past 40 years we have been
entrenched in using the same two protocols.

The system we built this summer allows pairs of hosts to switch to any
protocol based on application preferences without adding significant
latency.  The mechanism we made to change protocols starts off a
conversation in one protocol, and simultaneously sends a small message
conveying other protocols that they would want to use.  If the other side
agrees, the protocol switches. This mechanism relies on a small time lag
because if the other side does not have the protocol switching mechanisms,
the communication goes on as normal with a small latency and minimal
overhead.  But if both sides agree to change protocols, they can also do so
with no significant latency because the protocol preference message acts as
a substitute for the first message in the conversation.