Bitcoin's scaling debate is continuing to grow more intense, with each new strategy and proposal escalating tensions among various networks and stakeholders. The potential for a significant breakdown is so high that some analysts have compared the scaling debate to a Cold War in the digital age. In short, the scaling debate centers around how developers intend to make the Bitcoin system better suited to the ever-increasing number of users. Given that Bitcoin is still generally operating on software that was developed nearly a decade ago, and which began with a very small number of users and transactions, that software has run into significant problems as the user base for Bitcoin has jumped into the millions worldwide. Now, mining outfit Bitmain has introduced a strategy which details how it will respond if a controversial code upgrade called BIP 148 becomes active in the near future.

Bitmain Would Activate Hard Fork

Bitmain outlined its plans in a blog post, calling the proposal a "contingency plan" should Bitcoin users force a change through BIP 148. Should this occur, Bitmain says, it will refocus mining resources toward hard forking the Bitcoin network to a rule set featuring a larger block size. Block size is at the crux of the scaling debate, as it determines the transaction processing time which has become longer and longer as the initial Bitcoin network has become overloaded.

The hard fork is an aspect of Bitmain's plan with astonishing repercussions. Through a "hard fork," the plan would essentially nullify previous blocks and transactions. Users adopting Bitmain's new rules would go forward on a new branch of the blockchain, and those who do not would continue in the old version. As analysts at CoinDesk have pointed out, this could create two separate Bitcoin networks and two different types of Bitcoin assets available for trade.

SegWit2x and BIP 148

Two different scaling proposals have taken shape in recent weeks, called SegWit2x and BIP 148. Both intend to bring about a change in the Bitcoin code called Segregated Witness (SegWit). However, both of these proposals would also involve splitting Bitcoin into two different assets, which would undoubtedly have a significant effect on the value of the network. Users and analysts have chosen sides in the debate between the two proposals, with some referring to BIP 148 as an "Independence Day" for the cryptocurrency. Bitmain, however, feels that the proposed upgrade would be "very dangerous for exchanges and other business," according to the company's blog post. In this way, Bitmain sees its hard fork proposal as a way of protecting its users against a post-BIP 148 split in the asset. The Bitmain proposal is sure to draw both staunch support and fierce criticism from the wider community.

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