Fewer Than 16 Percent of Ethereum (ETH) Nodes Upgraded; Constantinople Hard Fork Three Days Away

January 14, 2019 / by Zachary Mashiach

The Ethereum (ETH) Constantinople hard fork will deploy a mere 15,000 blocks from now at block 7.08 million, which will happen in less than three days. Since this is a hard fork, even in the best case scenario there would be two different Ethereum (ETH) blockchains for a short period of time.

This could cause transaction issues if Ethereum (ETH) or tokens are sent between the different chains. However, the situation is looking worse than expected because less than 16 percent of Ethereum (ETH) nodes — 1,180 nodes out of a total 7,600 nodes — have upgraded for Constantinople.

Crypto.IQ monitored node numbers over the past 36 hours, and the number of upgraded nodes has not risen. This could indicate one of two things:

It is possible that Ethereum (ETH) users simply are disconnected from the news and unaware a hard fork is coming. This sort of thing is a problem during any hard fork, and is one of the reasons cryptocurrencies tend to avoid them.

The other possibility is that this is an organized coup d’etat in which miners are deciding not to upgrade but remain on the old chain. This is a distinct possibility because the Constantinople hard fork is the beginning of a planned transition from Proof of Work (PoW) to Proof of Stake (PoS), a situation where ultimately all Ethereum (ETH) miners will be disenfranchised.

The Constantinople hard fork begins this process of disenfranchising miners by slashing block rewards from three Ether to two. Miners have already been undergoing extreme losses and stress due to the decline in Ethereum’s (ETH) price from $1,400 in January 2018 to less than $120 today. This drastic price crash has caused numerous miners to go out of business.

At this point, only the most hardcore Ethereum (ETH) miners remain, and many of them are possibly mining at a loss just because they believe in Ethereum’s potential. Now the developers and part of the community are trying to put these remaining miners out of business. The slashing of the block rewards is salt in the wound.

It gets worse. Numerous members of the Ethereum (ETH) community are calling for the banning of ASIC miners, especially after the 51 percent double spend attack on Ethereum Classic (ETC). Apparently, ProgPoW will be implemented in a soft fork within a few months, which would ruin profitability for ETHash ASIC miners.

Finally, PoW will be completely abandoned in the Serenity hard fork, which is likely the next hard fork after Constantinople.

So if Ethereum (ETH) miners are going to make a stand and fight for the survival of their enterprise, the current Constantinople hard fork would be the best time to do so. Miners can decide not to implement Constantinople to voice their discontent. If the numbers of upgraded nodes remain low through the deployment of Constantinople, an interesting philosophical debate will arise. If miners do not upgrade and are mining the longest chain on the “old” version of Ethereum, then is the old version of Ethereum the real Ethereum?

It seems quite possible that two versions of Ethereum could arise when the Constantinople hard fork is deployed: one which is favorable for miners and another which is operated by the dev team and transitioning to having no miners.

The uncertainty surrounding the possibility of an Ethereum chain split may be part of the reason Ethereum’s (ETH) price has dropped 22 percent in the days leading up to the Constantinople hard fork. If there really is serious tension during the fork and a chain split, then a crypto-wide market cap crash could ensue because numerous cryptocurrencies are tokens on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain.