A major network upgrade or hard fork is usually bullish for a crypto project. Ethereum has long been subject to indignation from its adversaries for its lack of scalability and network problems when under pressure. The first phases of a long awaited protocol upgrade are about to be rolled out but will they have any impact on ETH prices?
Istanbul Imminent on Testnets
The long awaited Istanbul network upgrade for Ethereum is due to be rolled out over the next three months. It has already faced delays and there may well be more but the first testnet deployment of the upgrade is scheduled for next week.
According to a number of reports the hard fork brings improvements in layer 2 performance, increased resilience against DDoS attacks, greater interoperability between Ethereum and Zcash, and enables more inventive functions within smart contracts.
Because it is quite a large update it needs to be launched on several testnets before the mainnet gets a taste. Istanbul will be deployed on the Ropsten testnet on October 2 and Görli test network later in the month. Following that there will be a rollout on Rinkeby in November and Kovan in December according to this Infura blog post.
Eleven Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) will be implemented during the hard fork which is due for mainnet deployment in early 2020. Istanbul is a phased precursor to the wider Serenity ETH 2.0 upgrade which radically improves the network and introduces a different consensus mechanism.
According to a ConsenSys medium earlier this year the Beacon Chain Proof of Stake blockchain, or Phase 0, will mark the execution of the long-planned switched from Proof of Work to PoS consensus. It will initially run alongside the Ethereum PoW blockchain to ensure a smooth transition but not until Istanbul has been fully deployed.
Shard Chains are the next phase of the Serenity roadmap but they will not be launched until Beacon Chain is running smoothly. Phase 1 deployment has been put back to the first half of 2020 but it largely depends on the successful rollout of Istanbul and Phase 0.
What About Ethereum Price?
Delays in the development roadmap often negatively impact the price of a crypto token. ETH prices have been weak lately but they are still largely anchored to the movements of big brother Bitcoin. This week alone ETH has been smashed 25% to a four month low just below $160.
It is unlikely to make any moves independently of Bitcoin until there is solid progress with some of these network upgrades which, unfortunately for ETH holders, probably won’t be until next year.