Ethereum’s Constantinople Hard Fork: What It Is and Why It Matters

Here’s a brief fact sheet on Ethereum’s Constantinople hard fork:

Released on February 28th, 2019, Ethereum’s Constantinople upgrade introduced a number of key features. These features include delaying the “difficulty bomb” to ensure continuance of the blockchain before PoS (Proof of Stake) is released. Additionally, excessive gas prices are being reduced, resulting in cheaper gas prices for various actions on the Ethereum blockchain.

Do current holders of Ethereum need to do anything to participate in this upgrade? No.

The Constantinople hard fork is automatic, so no need to worry about changing or updating anything regarding your Ethereum.

Practically speaking, what are all the changes occurring in the Constantinople upgrade?

Without diving too deeply into the coding aspect, here is a brief list of the practical changes that hit with Constantinople:

  • The update allows you to interact with addresses that haven’t yet been created.
  • The update makes it cheaper and easier to do a variety of actions on the Ethereum blockchain.
  • Delays the difficulty bomb (AKA the ice age) to prevent mining rewards from halting before Proof of Stake is released.

It’s important to note what’s missing here: Any mention of Proof of Stake.

This is not the “major” upgrade that will change Ethereum from Proof of Work (AKA mining to verify the blockchain) to Proof of Stake (AKA holding Ethereum in large quantities to verify the blockchain).

However, this upgrade is a critical step on the road towards Proof of Stake. Without this hard fork, Ethereum may very well have shut down before we ever reached the Casper update (AKA Proof of Stake).

For those wondering what a “hard fork” is, here’s a brief description:

A hard fork is when a coin splits into two versions. In this case, the superior version is the updated Constantinople version of Ethereum.

So, everyone switches to using the Constantinople chain of Ethereum, and discards the old, non-Constantinople version of Ethereum. There is no debate or argument, no one wants to keep the worse version of Ethereum.

This is in comparison to a contentious hard fork, which fortunately Constantinople is not. In a contentious hard fork, various people want to keep both versions of the forked coin.

We saw this with bitcoin cash. It resulted in bitcoin cash splitting into two separate tokens mired in a deadly battle to determine which would end up on top.

This battle ended up tanking the entire crypto market.

Fortunately, nothing like this will happen with Constantinople as everyone agrees Constantinople is a good thing.

The Constantinople hard fork is a simple stepping stone to reach the ultimate goal: Casper.

Casper is the key update that will change everything, shifting Ethereum from being a mining based coin to a stake based coin.

Once Casper hits, the Ethereum blockchain will change forever. If done correctly, I believe we could see a large spike in Ethereum price at that time. Casper’s estimated release date is approximately one year from now – March 2020.

Here’s to seeing great new things on the Ethereum blockchain! Hopefully updates like this will kickstart the crypto economy.

Stay updated crypto bros!

About the Author Will Salisbury

Will Salisbury is the co-founder of Blockchain Decrypted and full-time cryptocurrency trader. He also hosts the Blockchain Decrypted podcast, and when he's not talking or writing about blockchain technology and cryptos, he likes to play games and relax in his home state of Michigan.