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Ethereum developers launch seven testnets in preparation for the Shanghai hard fork

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(Kitco News) – The Ethereum network has seen a flurry of activity over the past week, with developers for the top smart contract platform have released a total of seven testnets as the network prepares to undergo its Shanghai hard fork near the end of March.

On Tuesday, Ethereum support team member Tim Beiko noted that the rate at which the development team has gotten better at launching testing infrastructure on Ethereum layer-1 “is pretty wild,” adding that “a new testnet used to be a really big deal, now it feels almost routine.”

Ethereum Foundation developer Parithosh responded by highlighting the fact that the development team has launched a combined seven testnets in a week “across shadow forks, shapella, verkel and 4844,” which is a new record.

Wednesday saw the launch of yet another testnet, the Zhejiang public testnet, which went live at 15:00 UTC. Zhejiang is the first testnet to offer Ether staking withdrawals. The main upgrade coming with the Shanghai hard fork is the ability to withdraw staked Ether and any earned rewards from the Ethereum Beacon Chain, which has been offering staking since Dec. 2020.

A Tuesday Twitter post from Ethereum developer Barnabas Busa indicates that following the launch of Zhejiang, the testnets for Shanghai and Capella will be triggered six days later at epoch 1350. “You will be able to deposit validators, practice BLS change and exit without risk,” Busa wrote.

The purpose of the testnet is to test out the ability to withdraw staked Ether while allowing the developers to monitor the level of uptake that the feature experiences and resolve any potential issues that arise before the hard fork. All of the Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIP) that are to be implemented with Shanghai have been included in the Zhejiang testnet.

Shanghai marks the first major upgrade on the Ethereum network since it successfully implemented the Merge on Sept. 15, which switched the network’s consensus mechanism from proof-of-work to proof of stake.

The ability to withdraw staked Ether has been a highly anticipated development for the Ethereum community due to the fact that some tokens have been locked on the Beacon Chain for more than two years.

Many stand to benefit greatly from the implementation of withdrawals, including Coinbase, which analysts at JPMorgan have suggested will generate an incremental annual staking revenue of $650 million from the Merge with ETH at $2,000 and a 5% yield.

At the time of writing, there are a total of 16,323,753 Ether staked on the Beacon Chain, which represents 13.3% of the total circulating supply. Data provided by Wennerge.com indicates that the Shanghai upgrade will take place on March 31.

Despite the notable development for Ethereum, the price of Ether is down 0.8% on the day and trading at a price of $1,575. It remains to be seen if the Shanghai upgrade can spark some new momentum for Ether, which remains down more than 68% from its all-time high of $4,891 set in November 2022.

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