Telegram Drops TON Testnet, but Independent Projects Carry New Hope
Telegram ceases its support of the test network for TON, but that will seemingly not deter the community from keeping the open-source project going.
At the start of July, Telegram announced it was discontinuing its support for the test network of Telegram Open Network in what seems as yet another â€” possibly the last â€” sign that the company is leaving its blockchain project for good.
Telegram chose to abandon TON as a result of a drawn-out legal battle with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, which apparently was close to convincing the court that TONâ€™s private $1.7 billion initial public offering was an unregistered securities sale. So, does the latest development mean that TON is dead? Developers of independent TON-based projects donâ€™t think thatâ€™s the case.
Telegram cuts ties with TON
Telegram-lead TON was an open-source project, and its entire code was published on GitHub in September 2019. Designed as a blockchain platform aimed at facilitating payments and hosting decentralized applications beyond Visaâ€™s scalability levels, TON and its in-house cryptocurrency, Gram, were going to be integrated into the Telegram messenger app, which boasts over 400 million users worldwide.
Those plans fell through as the project faced the SECâ€™s scrutiny, leaving TON to independent developers willing to carry out the project. A number of community-based projects have arisen over the past few months, namely Free TON, NewTON and TON Community Blockchain.
Free TON was the first one to materialize, as it was launched by an independent community of validators on May 7, a few days prior to Telegram CEO Pavel Durovâ€™s open letter announcing that the company was quitting the project. In the letter, Durov announced that â€œTelegramâ€™s active involvement with TONâ€� was over and seemingly addressed TON-based projects, saying:
â€œYou may see â€” or may have already seen â€” sites using my name or the Telegram brand or the â€™TONâ€™ abbreviation to promote their projects. Donâ€™t trust them with your money or data. No present or past member of our team is involved with any of these projects. While networks based on the technology we built for TON may appear, we wonâ€™t have any affiliation with them and are unlikely to ever support them in any way.â€�
Since then, two other TON-based initiatives, NewTON and TON Community Blockchain â€” which seemingly originated from the Chinese TON Community â€” have been created.Â
Developers of TON forks are encouraged
Even Telegramâ€™s official TON development group said that it would be suspending its support of TONâ€™s test network starting August 1, the post notably addressed those who â€œneed to continue testing after this date,â€� essentially saying that network participants will still be able to continue their TON-based activity. For guidance, Telegram enclosed three documents covering the installation of full nodes, validators and test Grams.
When asked whether this development affects Free TON in any way, Ron Millow, the projectâ€™s â€œcommunications evangelistâ€� and the chief business development officer of TON Labs, said that it â€œpositivelyâ€� does, elaborating to Cointelegraph:
â€œWe can now finish what TON started, which was the idea from the very beginning. In fact we posted this in all of the chat groups. Itâ€™s sad to see of course, but now weâ€™re going to finish it.â€�
Millow went on to say that â€œthe Durovs infected all of us with their phenomenal idea,â€� which prompted them to launch the Free TON fork once Telegramâ€™s plans hit the regulatory wall. â€œThe difference is we launched it without any investment other than our own will and time,â€� he added.Â
According to the Free TON representative, the project has already launched the mainnet for testing TON Surf â€” â€œthe wallet, browser and chat all-in-oneâ€� developed by TON Labs â€” although the network itself â€œis not yet ready for public consumption, because we are running it through its paces and testing it,â€� as Millow went on to add:
â€œWe are running network pressure (load) contests, devops contests, and other mechanisms to also put the network through high stress and attacks to weed out every possible bug and flaw. This way when we â€™flip the switchâ€™ nothing will change but all the fat will have been trimmed off.â€�
Similarly, the NewTON team seems to be unfazed by the update. â€œWe take this news as the Telegram team wants the community to continue working on the TON,â€� a NewTON representative told Cointelegraph, adding:
â€œEveryone who needs a testnet can use our testnet. Newton testnet has been working since the spring of this year, different types of wallets and tools are available […] We also did work on our alternative open source Telegram apps and bots with TON integration, there will be news.â€�
Tooz Wu, a Beijing-based blockchain researcher and founder of the Chinese TON Community, told Cointelegraph that the communityâ€™s TON fork, which was initially led by those in China, has since evolved and is now â€œcomposed of developers from several countries.â€� Wu told Cointelegraph:
â€œThis development is good for
. [Now that Telegramâ€™s support has] officially stopped, the community blockchain can accommodate more developers and validators. Now the point is to test the security of TON network.â€�
Wu added that the Chinese TON Community will consider launching the mainnet after it solves a network bug and makes sure that there are no further security-related issues. Like other individuals working on TON-based initiatives, he is certain that Telegram wants the community to continue: â€œAs you can see from Pavel Durovâ€™s post, it is encouraged.â€�
Some former members of the TON community did not see the latest development as a positive one. As one of the founding members of the TON Community Foundation previously told Cointelegraph, without Telegramâ€™s workforce, money and audience, adopting a TON-based project will be a difficult task.
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