Google, OpenDNS Make the Internet Faster, Starting Today

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Does the Internet feel any different today? A little less sluggish, perhaps?

Admittedly, you may think that the net is pretty zippy as is, but that’s entirely dependent on the location of your domain name server at any given browsing time—something a new partnership of multiple companies called the Global Internet Speedup Initiative is planning to change.

The Initiative—which includes Google, Verisign, OpenDNS and content delivery networks like CD Networks, Comodo and BitGravity amongst its members—aims to increase the speed of the Internet by changing the way traffic is routed around what used to be called the World Wide Web.

(MORE: Infographic: Which States Have the Best (and Worst) Internet Speeds?)

As the Initiative’s website explains:

DNS is like the phone book for the Internet. It converts human readable domains (www.opendns.com) to an IP address (208.69.38.160) that your computer can connect to. But what happens when you look up a business in the phone book and there are 50 locations? You probably want the location closest to you.

When trying to reach a website that exists in 50 locations around the world, you would want the same thing to happen. You want to be sent to the closest, fastest or least congested location automatically. Until now, figuring out which location is closest to you was not possible with DNS alone.

Today, if you’re using OpenDNS or Google Public DNS and visiting a website or using a service provided by one of the participating networks or CDNs in the Global Internet Speedup then a truncated version of your IP address will be added into the DNS request. The Internet service or CDN will use this truncated IP address to make a more informed decision in how it responds so that you can be connected to the most optimal server. With this more intelligent routing, customers will have a better Internet experience with lower latency and faster speeds.

According to David Ulevitch, chief executive of OpenDNS, one of the movers and shakers in the partnership, “Starting today, tens of millions of internet users will benefit from fairly dramatic speed increases… It’s a nice win for users and it shows that collaboration works when it is based on open standards.”

MORE: Broadband Services Approach Advertised Speeds

Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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