The Ethereum development team has come to an agreement to deploy the Constantinople hard fork at block 7,080,000. Currently, Ethereum is near block 6.86 million, so this fork should happen some time between 14-18 January 2019.

The Constantinople hard fork was supposed to deploy in November 2018 but when had failed when deployed on the testnet in October 2018. After the failure on testnet, developer Afri Shchoedon made the accurate forecast that a fork was unlikely in 2018.

Ethereum has declined from USD 1,400 to less than USD 100 during 2018, and numerous companies and platforms launched via Ethereum are facing increasing enforcement pressure from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for unregistered issuance and trading of securities. This perhaps makes January 2019 a less than ideal time for a hard fork of the Ethereum blockchain, but the developers do not have much of a choice due to the difficulty bomb.

The difficulty bomb is programmed into Ethereum to cause blocks to become exponentially slower after a point, which eventually leads to an ice age where no more blocks are mined. This forces the developers to hard fork Ethereum periodically, and the point of this is to make sure Ethereum keeps on getting updated with the latest technology. The difficulty bomb is not going to be removed in the Constantinople fork, just delayed another 18 months.

The Constantinople hard fork may cause contention between investors and miners since it lowers the block reward from 3 Ether to 2 Ether. On the other hand, investors should welcome a lower inflation rate of Ether supply. However, miners have been struggling due to the collapse of Ethereum’s price and slashing the block reward by a third during this time could be seen as inconsiderate.

Lowering the block reward is already a heated issue but the Ethereum developers are rushing to implement ProgPoW, which would make ASICs incompatible with Ethereum mining. This move is likely to disenfranchise most of the major Ethereum miners.

The debate over this fork will intensify over the next month as the fork approaches and an Ethereum split is not out of the question, since the developers appear to have different views from the miners who are securing the network. Ethereum has already split once due to a hard fork over the loss of the development fund, since some of the community did not agree in reversing any transactions even if it was a hack, and this is how Ethereum Classic was born.

Yet another version of Ethereum could easily be born if a fraction of miners coordinate and decide not to upgrade their nodes to Constantinople. Indeed, miners who use ASICs have nothing to lose by doing this, since if ProgPoW is implemented their hardware will instantly become worthless unless they can succeed at keeping the current version of Ethereum alive.

 

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