A group of DNS providers and content delivery network (CDN) companies have devised a new extension to the DNS protocol that that aims to more effectively direct users to the closest CDN endpoint. Google, OpenDNS, BitGravity, EdgeCast, and CDNetworks are among the companies participating in the initiative, which they are calling the Global Internet Speedup.
The new DNS protocol extension, which is documented in an IETF draft, specifies a means for including part of the user’s IP address in DNS requests so that the nameserver can more accurately pinpoint the destination that is topologically closest to the user. Ensuring that traffic is directed to CDN endpoints that are close to the user could potentially reduce latency and congestion for high-impact network services like video streaming.
The new protocol extension has already been implemented by OpenDNS and Google’s Public DNS. It works with the CDN services that have signed on to participate in the effort. Google and OpenDNS hope to make the protocol extension an official IETF standard. Other potential adopters—such as Internet ISPs—are free to implement it from the draft specification.
It’s not really clear in practice how much impact this will have on network performance. It’s worth noting that GeoIP lookup technology is already used by some authoritative DNS servers for location-aware routing. The new protocol extension will reportedly address some of the limitations of previous approaches.
This article originally appeared on Ars Technica, Wired’s sister site for in-depth technology news.