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Telegram’s TON is Over: What Happens to the Blockchain Project Next?

On May 12th, 2020, Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov announced the Telegram Open Network (TON), the messaging company’s highly anticipated blockchain platform.

The news that Telegram had been forced to abandon its TON project symbolized sustained pressure from regulators in the U.S to impede social media-backed cryptocurrency ventures.

That said, the project’s source code remains freely available on Github, so other developers can technically use it to develop their version of the Telegram Open Network. The original TON development team recently announced that the TON code had been officially transferred to the free source community.

As discouraging as it is to see Telegram forced to drop the TON concept, many in the crypto sphere will be interested to see what route the project takes next. Read on to learn the fate of the TON blockchain after the exit of Telegram. 

Telegram’s Legal Battle with the SEC

The project’s predicament began in Oct. 2019, when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed an emergency action and temporary restraining order to stop Telegram from launching TON. 

This happened a mere 20 days ahead of TON’s planned launch, marking the beginning of the end for the promising blockchain project. 

What followed was a struggle that dragged on for months, where the SEC engaged Telegram and TON in a legal battle over the nature of their native cryptocurrency, GRAM. 

Finally, in May of this year, Telegram was forced to officially concede its long battle against SEC regulators over the TON blockchain. 

TON Forked and Launched Without Telegram

Shortly before Telegram officially abandoned the TON network, the Free TON community, an independent group of software developers, validators, and users, launched the “Free TON Blockchain” on May 7th, 2020. 

The Free TON blockchain successfully forked and launched without Telegram after the community decided not to wait until the messaging company cleared the regulatory hurdles it faced at the time. 

The new TON blockchain will now be maintained and validated by a comprehensive team of independent, non-hierarchical participants and has thus far garnered thirteen validators’ support. 

According to Ron Millow, chief business development officer at TON Labs, the main difference between Telegram’s TON and the newly launched Free TON project is that the latter was launched without any funds from investors and a community independent users rather than a corporation. 

The new blockchain project’s unexpected launch, which was broadcasted live on a YouTube Zoom call, saw immediate success. More than 1,000 people had already signed the Declaration of Decentralization (DOD) to join the community in just a few hours of free TON rolling out.

Among the alleged new members was the exec at Ukraine’s major crypto exchange, Kuna exchange, who gave the project a much-needed boost by immediately signing the DOD to join the network.

Despite the apparent success during the launch, some people from the original TON community were skeptical of the initiative. 

For instance, Daniel Perez, the head of TON Spain, explained to reporters that without Telegram’s resources and its audience of almost half a billion users through its messenger app, adopting the Free TON network would be a tough task.

Free TON Rolls Out First Contest to Dispense Tokens

Soon after Free TON was unveiled, the decentralized blockchain network announced launching the first community contests to power its network. Each competition intended to disburse about 50k TON Crystal tokens amongst winners and contributors to the project. 

As per reports, the Free TON community has issued more than 5 billion TONs comparable to the project’s original crypto-token, GRAM. Reportedly, 85% of these new tokens will be distributed to Free TON partners/users, and 10% going to developers. The remaining 5% is designated for the community’s validators. 

Regarding the token distribution, the Free TON Community remarked that it was imposing to launch a blockchain network where the community pool controlled the vast majority of tokens instead of investors.

As things stand, anyone can become part of the Free TON network. Still, individuals and organizations in the U.S. are currently barred from joining the network due to the prevailing regulatory concerns over Free TON’s parent blockchain, TON.  

However, despite the complicated regulatory situation due to the SEC’s stringent guidelines, the Free TON Community still hopes that U.S. companies and individuals will be part of the future project. 

China Rolls Out Its Own Network on TON Blockchain

The TON saga continued on May 29th when the Chinese community of the TON project announced plans to launch its test network on Telegram’s blockchain product, despite the presence of Free TON.

The Chinese TON community was initially structured in May of last year by Beijing-based blockchain enthusiast Tooz Wu, who was primarily involved in translating the TON project’s technical documentation into Chinese.

Wu now intends to roll out a test network and a project website. The community will endeavor to attract as many participants, nodes, and developers as possible to develop the system. 

In yet another twist in the TON spectacle, the Chinese TON Community recently criticized Free TON on Twitter, calling the project a “shitcoin” from TON Labs that shouldn’t represent the TON community. However, the original TON development team stated that the main developments in the project’s code are in the public domain, and anyone can use them. 


With the Chinese TON Community preparing to launch its own TON network, there are at least two TON-based blockchain successors to date. Now, the project seems destined to live on without Telegram, thanks to the free source TON community.

Given the May 7th hard fork, as well as the Chinese TON Community’s imminent network, it appears that the market already has TON contributors who are prepared to brave the storm.

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Things could get somewhat messy is whether the Free TON community will work together with their Chinese counterparts to steer the project towards the desired goal of equality and decentralization

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