Postponed twice, faced many setbacks as a result of potential security vulnerability found in one of the software upgrades combined with strong disagreements from the Ethereum core developer and security community for a delayed upgrade. The much anticipated Ethereum ETH whole network maintenance upgrade Constantinople was successfully implemented at block height 7,280,000 on 28th February 2019 as seen on ethstats. Statistics on ethernodes shows that over 36% Geth and Parity clients are already Ethereum Constantinople and Petersburg hard fork compliant. Pro Ethereum developers and investors believe this is a major achievement for the second largest blockchain project by market cap and that it has laid the foundation for the easy migration to Ethereum 2.0, which will take care of the problem of scalability, the most used counterpoint by Ethereum network critics.
The target of the upgrade can be summarized into three broad classes:
Improve the existing fee structure
Improve network efficiency
Lay foundation for network scaling solution where state channel can be executed.
This time the Constantinople upgrade involved five main EIPs (Ethereum Improvement Proposals). For emphasis sake, they are summarized below:
EIP 145: This will allow for more information processing on the network, known as bitwise shifting.
EIP 1052: This will help optimize large scale code execution on the Ethereum network.
EIP 1283: This was found to be vulnerable to reentrancy attack, but the community has resolved on how to handle the issue without risk. It is an improvement on EIP 1087 to introduce a more equitable pricing model for changes made to data storage.
EIP 1014: This is directly from Vitalik’s table to help facilitate a certain type of scaling solution based on state channels “off - chain” transactions.
EIP 1234: Help reduce block reward from 3ETH to 2ETH for the next 12 months.
There are varying opinions about the importance of the successful upgrade. The main point many raise is the fact that it will make Ethereum ready for extreme traffic level since it has entered the path towards becoming fully scalable. Hours leading to the previous Byzantium Hard fork in 2017 saw ETH drop in price by a whopping 20%. This time, analysts speculated an upward surge in price but that is yet to be seen, rather price has been stable around $135/ETH. There is a counter-argument that difficulty bomb delay (a piece of code programmed to activate what is known as the Ethereum “ice age” in which new block creation on the network eventually slows to a complete halt.) may have dampened the price effect for now.
Is the network overloaded now?
Currently, the Ethereum network is able to carry out around 15 Transaction per seconds (TPS). This may be seen as fair enough to anyone using the network now, but considering the long term scenario with the growing adoption of cryptos, it may become an issue that can drive them out of the market despite the feat they have achieved since they launched in July 2015. Truth is that the ETH network brought a whole new perspective to the capabilities of blockchain technology using smart contracts. As a result of that, over 500+ different ERC- 20, ERC - 223, and ERC - 777 have been built on the Ethereum network. Some of the other big blockchain network (EOS, Zilliqa e.tc) had to pitch in the ETH network until they finished their own network before migrating. There is no doubt about Ethereum being a key player in the development of the blockchain technology which is still at infancy.
Recalling the network congestion that accompanied the launch of the crypto kitties’ dApps in 2017 which almost crashed the whole network, it's important to find an escape route before it’s clogged again. The number of projects on the Ethereum network is more now compared to then and most of them have very big plans that will attract many users once fully developed. All these are reasons for a necessary update like the Constantinople if they don't want a mass exodus of projects to other competing platforms like Zilliqa, NEO, Tron and the likes who are promising linearly scalable solutions with ridiculously high TPS. The average end user may not immediately appreciate the value of the successful update on the network until they begin to see it implemented by developers.
Hard forks can sometimes be characterized with drama that leads to the creation of new coins/tokens when a portion of the users don’t agree with the upgrade. With more than 36% of the clients already Constantinople compliant in less than 72 hours after the upgrade it shows that the Ethereum network has taken a good step in the right direction.
The successful upgrade has laid the groundwork for easy transition from PoW (Proof of Work) to the more energy efficient PoS (Proof of Stake).
While the successful update is a piece of good news to Ethereum network developers, investors, and all projects who build on the network, it may be bad news for the other blockchain networks who planned to be famous through receiving the unsatisfied migrating Ethereum network users. Gains for them may not be in sight for now, at least since Ethereum network seem to be doing everything possible to maintain their competitive edge and dominance.
The new updates will help to save time and computing cost. Specifically, for developers the EIP 1283 will help greatly reduce the amount developers will pay to build smart contracts on the network. This may mark the beginning of a new phase for Ethereum network as it may witness the influx of developers coming to build on it.