We are excited to announce a recent investment from Interchain Foundation!

In alignment with Althea's Cosmos based blockchain, this investment will support our work in deploying more decentralized internet networks and the work of interoperability with Ethereum and Cosmos by developing the Peggy bridge.

Cosmos's vision of interoperable blockchains resonates with our core vision of an open and interoperable bandwidth marketplace and we are proud to be a part of the Cosmos' ecosystem.

Althea makes it easy for anyone to add capacity or participate in the network. Althea’s router will always select the fastest and least expensive route on a second-by-second basis. These internet users and bandwidth providers bring a growing user base of everyday people to Cosmos, using crypto to pay for their internet.

Althea has established networks throughout the US and Africa and has seen accelerated growth since the post pandemic world has brought the need for high speed broadband into focus. We are excited to continue this growth trajectory along with Cosmos as we launch our Althea blockchain on Cosmos later this year.

“Althea is truly aligned with the Cosmos Network ethos to drive sustainability and sovereignty in our economy and society. They are a tangible example of how decentralized networks can improve people’s lives and their contributions to Peggy will be massively useful for the entire ecosystem.” said Billy Rennekamp, Grants Manager of the Interchain Foundation.

Let’s get to the fun stuff - What are we building and how do you run it?

What’s in a bridge anyway?

When we say that Peggy is a ‘bridge between Cosmos and Ethereum’ a lot of details get swept under the rug. Exactly what would this bridge be capable of? What parts do we need?

Major components for Peggy are.

  • The Ethereum contract: To lock and unlock the funds on Ethereum
  • The relayers: To present data about what’s happening on Ethereum to the Cosmos Zone and vice versa
  • The Cosmos module: Determine the state of funds on Ethereum through the relayers + lock and unlock the funds on Cosmos
  • The Client: Software run by whoever is using the bridge

For even a completely centralized Ethereum ↔ Cosmos bridge you need some version of all four of these components.

To grossly oversimplify a complicated subject all of these components exist somewhere on this scale.

In a centralized system clients simply make their contract calls and place their trust in a single manager or single key. This manager can always steal funds in the bridge.

In a multisig system a group of managers takes the place of a single manager. The multisig membership typically changes infrequently if at all. A multisig vote can always steal funds from the bridge. xDai, WBTC, RSK, and Liquid all work this way.

In a validator trusting system bridge security relies on a DPOS (Delegated proof of stake) validator set. While the bridge itself continues to act effectively as a powers-weighted-voting multisig, DPOS infrastructure allows for a much larger and more frequently changing set of voters to be practical. In addition, validator stake is now implicitly on the line, dishonesty with bridged funds may reduce the value of the validators staked native token. This is the level of security provided by standard IBC and the level of security Althea is targeting.

In a semi-trustful system, the clients trust a system of observers and the threat of slashing stake to prevent the validators from acting dishonestly with the bridge funds, even if a majority attempts to do so. This usually involves slashing on other chains. This is semi-trustful because not every client is observing both chains and submitting slashing proofs but the system depends on someone doing so. This is the level of security targeted by ChainSafe’s ChainBridge

In a trust-less system, the client itself can observe both blockchains in a highly efficient manner and confirm with some sort of succinct proof that funds are being properly handled. You may have heard this described as ‘atomic swaps’. As far as I’m aware there are no systems like this in production due to the extreme difficulty of performing these full verifications efficiently.

The overall trusting or trustless nature of the bridge depends on its weakest link.

Currently, different parts of Peggy are in progress at different levels of trust.

  • The Ethereum contract: Centralized
  • The relayers: Unfinished semi-trustful
  • The Cosmos module: Unfinished semi-trustful
  • The Client: Validator trusting (meaning a normal Cosmos full node)

Althea Peggy, foundations for the future

The plan for Althea Peggy is to

  • Sync up all components at the validator trusting level of security
  • Provide only bidirectional ERC-20 support (DAI to Cosmos and back for example)
  • Get the above into production in a robust, stable, and efficient way by the end of 2020

This minimalist design lets us do away with laundry lists of subsystems to design and potential vulnerabilities to cover. That way we can focus on the difficult challenge of getting any version of Peggy at all ready for production use.

Our goal is to provide solid foundations for future development. A working system that can be iterated and production-ready code that can be run by people who need it today.

Over the rest of the year, we’ll be making blog posts twice a month taking you through individual components of Althea Peggy in detail. First up we’ll be showing off our highly efficient Peggy Ethereum contract.

But you don't have to wait for us to try things out, you can run the code today. Visit the Peggy repo and run 'bash tests/all-up-test.sh'.