Telegram Open Network (TON) is a blockchain network that is designed to be faster, scalable while being capable to handle millions of transactions per second. It can provide competition to Ethereum’s smart contracts and decentralized applications while at the same time being extremely scalable.
What is Telegram Open Network? (TON)
Telegram Open Network is a flexible and scalable architecture consisting of master chains and up to 292 accompanying blockchains. It marks a dynamic 5th generation blockchain that includes “dynamic sharding”, smart contracts, faster scaling, file storage, and DNS alternative.
The TON project collected for about USD 1.7bn from private investors. It is surprisingly raised more than one-fifth of all funds that was raised in the year 2018.
It was not intended to be just as a blockchain project but wants to build an ecosystem with “huge superserver capable of handling millions of transactions per second”
The intention to integrate the Telegram Chat with TON is clearly stated in an early litepaper, distributed to initial investors (i.e., Telegram Investor Primer):
“Telegram-TON integration will provide a clear path to cryptocurrencies for millions of people. Telegram Messenger will not only serve as an example of the possibilities offered by integrating with TON, but will also add unique features to the TON platform, leveraging Telegram’s massive user base and developed ecosystem”
The source code for the TON blockchain was released on Sept 7th, 2019. The release of the TON Testnet has enabled to run a full node, validator node, and the use of block explorer for the Testnet.
The whitepapers that are issued for the project include:
- A general whitepaper on the Telegram Open Network
- A whitepaper on the blockchain
- A whitepaper on the virtual machine
- A whitepaper on the language used by TON’s smart contracts and a last whitepaper, supposedly describing the details of the consensus mechanism that has been announced, yet not published.”
What Holds Within The TON Ecosystem?
A new generation blockchain is usually assessed by two criteria: “the deployed consensus mechanism and the addition of at least one new element.”
The TON network will support the inclusion of Telegram Virtual Machine (TVM) that will be running on nodes for the execution of “smart contracts” as similar to the Ethereum platform.
Proof of Stake has been utilized in the network. The white paper lays down out the reason to choose Byzantine Fault Tolerant (BFT) version of PoS.
“Some subjects have intentionally been left out of this document. One is the Byzantine Fault Tolerant (BFT) protocol used by the validators to determine the next block of the masterchain or a shardchain; that subject is left for a forthcoming document dedicated to the TON Network.”
The implementation of Byzantine Fault Tolerant (BFT) is one of the first of its kinds to be implemented on a BFT on a permissionless network including:
- the support for both heterogeneous and homogeneous blockchains.
- sharding on demand.
- a tight coupling of blockchains.
Sharding: Enabling Millions of Transactions Per Second
Inclusion of sharding network along with elements from the previous blockchain and multi-host features are included in the Telegram TON network.
The architecture of the Telegram TON network makes it quite unique to support scaling. With the far-fetched goal of being able to support “millions of transactions per second”. It seems to exceeds even the busiest payment of Visa averaging out on 1,700 transactions per second.
Sharding is split into databases with multiple and valid independent pieces such as shards. Every shards contain the required data as the database is split into rows and not columns. Each shardchain block is a group of cells — the specific type of data in TON. A shardchain block itself can also be described by an algebraic formula and is stored as a “bag of cells,” according to the TON Description Document (section 2.5.6).
In traditional blockchain architecture, sharding is usually done structurally. However, in TON sharding is done dynamically.
“Tight Coupling” feature of TON includes a scenario where multiple homogenous shardchains of heterogenous workchains is able to interact seamlessly. This ensures vibrancy in the network and interoperability while enabling a “mesh” network for a faster transaction.
The prospective launch of the master chain will include one workchain which is the Telegram Open Network workchain. It will use Fift to write smart contracts, with Telegram Virtual Machine for execution as well as Gram as its native asset.
TON vs Libra
The stark difference between Telegram and Libra marks the visions and ambition of what each project is trying to propagate. Libra attempts to revive how money is circulated globally. TON aims to redefine the entire blockchain stack.
TON’s Gram is subjected to price circulation (in fiat) while Libra offers a full collateralization with traditional assets.
The significance of Libra and TON requires a significant analysis as both have a massive userbase and created by a parent company while being clashed by Bitcoin’s ideology due to the fear of being too centralized.
TON aims to radicalize the entire blockchain stack while Libra aiming to use it as an alternative form of the payment system.
Their approach in engaging with a broader audience is diverse which is visible in the respective Github repositories.
‘According to publicly available data from Github, Libra has 80 direct contributors and more than 22 000 external contributors, while TON presumably has 15 contributors and 8 known external contributors.’
Stablecoin Vs Utility Token
Unlike Libra, Gram is not a currency but a utility token.
The valuation of Gram was defined through two private sales in USD denominated cost function. In the first round, the average price of Grams was set at 0.38 USD while the price of the second round rose to 1.33 USD.
However, the current market price for Gram (i.e., the latest price paid on Liquid) is set at 4 USD. The original supply of Gram is about 5 billion units while the respect market capitalization sets at 20 billion USD.
Libra aims to be used as a currency while aiming to be price stable by having the goal to collateralizing it with fiat currencies.
According to an approximation of Binance Research, Telegram has an approximate userbase of 500 million users while Facebook reportedly has 2.4 billion users which is approximately 5 times as many as Telegram.
Is It Credible?
The development has been taken in a completely isolated manner with only some of its code released publicly on Github. There it makes it quite difficult to understand the architecture structure while making it difficult to identify potential attack vectors.
The whitepaper doesn’t document the actual implementation A small developer community with a poorly documented programming language with a new blockchain makes it difficult for external parties which can potentially develop into a centralized developing scene.
The agony of the whole blockchain system is the scaling of a decentralized database. Telegram TON network aims to address that combined with a BFT PoS mechanism.
It raises questions from many and issues like most of the PoS based blockchain networks, TON can be subjected to centralization because of the small and homogenous developing scene.
The Telegram TON if launched with a user-friendly app, users are likelier to adopt its crypto-asset: Gram.
The radicalization of TON can redefine a new era of blockchain technology that will enable supporting of thousands of dapps on a true backend technology. The tight coupling sharing network of blockchain provides a superior and scalable platform providing as a game-changer for the entire blockchain community.
It is estimated that Telegram has a userbase of 500 million users signifying it can be one of the largest blockchains.
TON White Paper | Binance Research
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