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What is Ethereum’s London Hard Fork?

As an Ethereum user, nothing can be more frustrating than dealing with exorbitant transaction fees and painfully slow confirmation times. It leaves you powerless; and for this, there needs to be certainty on how much a transaction could cost, and moving assets between wallets becomes a tedious waiting game. 

But what if there was a solution to these problems? Enter Ethereum’s latest network upgrade – the London hard fork. In this article, we’ll learn what exactly the London hard fork is, the critical problems it solves, its key benefits, and how it empowers the end-user.

So read on to understand if the London hard fork is the much-needed breakthrough Ethereum desperately needs.

What triggered the need for a hard fork?

Ethereum is a digital platform that started in 2015 and has been growing very fast. However, as it grew bigger, some problems became more apparent. Two of the main issues were that it took a lot of work to handle many people using it at once, and the fees people had to pay to use it were sometimes very high and unpredictable.

Ethereum could only handle around 30 transactions per second – nowhere near enough for global adoption. And the way transaction fees were handled meant users had no certainty over what they would pay. Fees would fluctuate wildly, sometimes spiking up to over ₹2000 for a single transaction!

Clearly, this was unacceptable, so Ethereum’s large community of developers and miners agreed it was time for an upgrade. The London hard fork introduced five key improvements to tackle these issues and paved the way for the even more ambitious Ethereum 2.0.

Understanding the London hard fork upgrades

The London hard fork is not a new version of Ethereum but rather an upgrade to the existing Ethereum blockchain. Think of it like upgrading the software on your phone. The core technology remains, but flaws are fixed, and new features are added.

The fork was activated on August 5th, 2021 and introduced 5 separate Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs):

  • EIP-1559: The headlining upgrade, changing how transaction fees work
  • EIP-3198: Makes some gas fee calculations more efficient 
  • EIP-3529: Reduces the gas costs of certain smart contract actions  
  • EIP-3541: Prevents any unintended delays if the network gets congested
  • EIP-3554: Increases the maximum contract size, allowing more complex decentralised applications (dApps)

Let’s look in detail at EIP-1559 as this single proposal introduces very impactful changes.

Key changes introduced in London fork

The London fork implements five Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) that alter core components like gas fee calculations, block limits, and mining rewards. Here is a breakdown of what each proposal achieves:

  • EIP-1559: Introduces a “base fee” for transactions that automatically adjusts based on network demand. Users also add an optional tip to prioritise their transactions. This improves the predictability of gas fees.
  • EIP-3198: Makes gas pricing increments more granular. Fees can change after smaller block count thresholds.
  • EIP-3529: Reduces smart contract gas usage refunds, improving blockspace efficiency. 
  • EIP-3554: Delays the “difficulty bomb” by 1.5 years. This difficulty bomb slowly increases mining difficulty to discourage proof-of-work mining eventually. Delaying it maintains the status quo.
  • EIP-3541: Prevents smart contracts from paying mining fees. Saves costs for applications.

The main improvement comes from EIP-1559, which replaces the single gas fee model with a two-component model consisting of a base fee and tip. This approach balances costs and network demands efficiently.

How will these updates help Ethereum? 

The changes introduced by the London fork target two key areas – stabilising transaction costs and improving efficiency. Mentioned below are the major benefits in each area:

i) Reducing fee volatility

Under Ethereum’s previous model, users competed to have their transactions added by paying higher gas fees during times of congestion. This dynamic fee market led fees to vary wildly based on demand. Gas prices could surge 10x within a week whenever transaction volumes peak.

By implementing a programmatic base fee that automatically adjusts block by block, EIP-1559 prevents these volatile price swings. Users now pay a consistent base fee based on current network conditions, with the option to tip miners for faster inclusion. 

This dual-fee model still allows dynamic prioritisation of transactions but keeps base costs stable and relatively predictable. Even at peak usage, fees are unlikely to inflate beyond 2-3x the baseline rate.

ii) Improving block space efficiency

Each Ethereum block can only store a finite amount of data, so this scarce blockspace must be utilised optimally. However, certain smart contract behaviours would waste block space earlier, such as contracts refunding large amounts of gas fees at the end of transactions.

The London fork discourages these inefficient practices by reducing refunds and preventing contracts from paying fees altogether. This keeps blocks leaner, maximising transaction throughput. The granularity introduced in gas increments through EIP-3198 also boosts flexibility.

Together, these changes allocate block space supply based on transaction urgency. Lower-value transactions may wait during demand spikes, but fees will stay strong. User experience improves, especially for those making smaller, non-urgent payments.

Paving the road for Ethereum 2.0

While the London fork delivers much-needed interim improvements, Ethereum still faces fundamental limits to scaling under its current proof-of-work consensus. The only sustainable long-term solution is switching to a proof-of-stake model – where miners are replaced with validators who must stake ETH tokens to process transactions.

This transition to proof-of-stake is at the core of Ethereum’s ambitious 2.0 upgrade roadmap. Ethereum 2.0 promises 100x higher transaction speeds, greater scalability through sharding, and a lower barrier to entry for speakers. Enabling these innovations requires radically changing Ethereum’s core protocol and infrastructure. 

Before fully rolling out Ethereum 2.0, the developers needed to stabilise per-transaction economics via the London fork. With fee volatility reduced and block space optimised, the network can now handle more transactions at lower costs until the 2.0 features launch. The London fork was essential preparation before permanently switching to proof-of-stake.


Ethereum is a platform for decentralised apps that can handle a lot of transactions. The London hard fork update makes it even better, improving scalability for the future. The update was successful because everyone agreed it was a good thing, showing Ethereum can adapt well. As blockchain technology grows, Ethereum’s ability to evolve sustainably will keep it ahead.


What was the need to introduce Ethereum’s London hard fork? 

The London hard fork was desperately needed to fix two of Ethereum’s biggest problems that made transactions very expensive and slow – consistently high gas fees crossing even ₹5,000 per transfer and network congestion leading to delays of several hours or even days in some cases. It became very unusable for end-users and app developers. The London fork implements technical upgrades like a fee burn mechanism and capacity planning to address these issues.

How does the London hard fork help stabilise Ethereum’s prices? 

The London upgrade burns a portion of miner fees, meaning they are permanently destroyed instead of given to miners. This reduces the outstanding supply of Ether coins over time. By modifying supply dynamics like this, the overall coin value becomes less impacted by external factors like mining rewards. This results in relatively more stable, less volatile prices that end-users can rely on. 

What are some visible impacts of the London hard fork for end-users?

For end-users, the London fork translates to Ethereum transactions having reasonable and predictable fees below ₹200, faster transfer speeds clearing within 2-5 minutes, lower volatility when trading/holding Ether, greater capacity supporting large DApps and 100x scalability in the future via sharding. Using DeFi apps, sending NFTs or just trading ETH becomes smooth.

Has the London hard fork fully solved Ethereum’s fee and scalability issues?  

No, the upcoming 2.0 Merge upgrade must be activated to resolve fees and scalability completely. But London fork builds the foundation by restructuring fees, implementing deflationary tokenomics and enhancing efficiency to pave the way for the sharding and Proof-of-Stake (PoS) transition coming with ETH 2.0 over the next 1-2 years.

Is the London hard fork a temporary band-aid solution for Ethereum?

No, the London fork represents meaningful mid- and long-term solutions to address Ethereum’s underlying issues, such as high costs, instability, and congestion. It lays critical groundwork for future sustainability and capacity increases. The base fee mechanism, deflationary burn, and efficiency gains stay relevant long after ETH 2.0. So, it’s an extremely impactful midterm upgrade.

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