September has been a big month for the ICE Network, the Polkadot and Ethereum-compatible extension network of the ICON blockchain network. 

Earlier this month, SNOW—ICE’s canary network—won a parachain slot in the Kusama ecosystem, Polkadot’s canary network. 

A major milestone for both ICE and ICON, the successful bid for a parachain slot followed a crowdloan campaign that netted a little over 13,000 Kusama tokens by the time the auction for the slot ended.

The onboarding process is currently in motion.

After SNOW Network onboards into the Kusama ecosystem, a period of reward calculations, node configuration and network testing will commence,” says the team behind the ICE network. “This period is estimated to run for a couple of weeks.”

We talked with the ICE team about the successful parachain bid, what ICE and SNOW offer users and developers, and what’s next for the network.

To give you the executive summary:

  • ICE is a Polkadot parachain linking Polkadot with the ICON network, while SNOW is a parachain on Polkadot’s Kusama canary network.
  • Thanks to ICON’s BTP technology, ICE will link not just Polkadot and ICON, but Polkadot and all of ICON’s BTP partners, including NEAR, Algorand and BNB Smart Chain.
  • ICE is also Ethereum compatible, offering Ethereum DApp developers a much cheaper place to park their DApps.
  • ICE offers developers grants to build out the network

ICE and SNOW: ICON’s Entry into the Polkadot ecosystem

ICE and SNOW are new parachains built to bridge the popular Polkadot blockchain network and its canary network Kusama to the ICON network.

Polkadot currently has 26 parachains, while Kusama has 40. However, ICE and SNOW aim to be unique in that they link Polkadot to another blockchain protocol.

Says the team, “ICE and SNOW seek to be the first parachains to join the Polkadot ecosystem as extension layers of an existing protocol, ICON, and in doing so, showcase the value of bridging not only technology, but also entire communities.”

The bridging of the ICON and Polkadot ecosystems opens up an ocean of new possibilities for users and developers alike.

If you use ICON applications and services, you can now explore Kusama (and soon, Polkadot) in a seamless, painless fashion thanks to ICE and SNOW’s baked-in integration with the ICON network.

And if you’re a developer, you’re looking at an ocean of opportunities as interoperability brings more and more demand to and for services.

With the addition of ‘Polkadot-access’ for ICON dApps, a wealth of use-cases open up for developers to build out,” says the team.

ICX holders have much to celebrate, too.

ICX holders will be happy to see the amount of interoperability use-cases grow, as all the accumulated transaction fees will move towards either $ICX token burn or BTP ecosystem grant programs.”

A parachain for the BTP era

Teams are currently building out core primitives that add value to the network.

This helps the ecosystem grow by having the infrastructure ready—the tooling, oracles, node infra, wallets that lead to value-add Dapps (and services),” says the ICE team.

The goals are to make sure that developers have what they need to be successful and build freely. Stay tuned.”

If you’re a developer and want to take advantage, you can do so now by launching on Snow’s testnet, Arctic.

What works on Snow, you’ll be able to deploy on ICE. We invite our dev community to leverage the resources available and develop across — DeFi, DAOs, NFTs, Gaming etc.”

What makes ICE and SNOW potentially transformative is ICON’s Blockchain Transmission Protocol, or BTP. When launched, BTP promises to usher in a whole new era of trustless interoperability between blockchain networks.

What this means is that ICE and SNOW link not just ICON and Polkadot, but also Polkadot and ICON’s BTP partners, including NEAR and BNB Smart Chain.

BTP is the coolest part. BTP plays a vital role regarding interoperability between ICON, ICE/Snow and Polkadot,” says the team.

This allows ICE/Snow to move external non-Polkadot assets (from other networks) into the Polkadot ecosystem. If you believe in a multi chain world, then BTP’s objective is to deliver just that. The result will be better UX in some instances and potentially better liquidity for DeFi by leveraging these various blockchain networks.”

Polkadot and Ethereum Compatible

Like most Polkadot parachains, ICE and SNOW are built using Substrate, an open source framework that allows teams to quickly build highly customized blockchains.

It comes with native support for connecting to Polkadot and Kusama right out of the box, while also providing the flexibility to customize builds and leverage ICON’s core interoperability technology, BTP.

Substrate’s interoperability goes even further, however.

The framework provides two smart contract virtual machines, which allows for the deployment and execution of Wasm and EVM smart contracts.

In short, this bridges ICON and the massive Ethereum ecosystem, providing Ethereum DApp developers a much cheaper place to park their applications.

This means that by building with Substrate, ICE and SNOW will be able to bridge ICON to Ethereum as Wasm and EVM compatible networks,” says the ICE team. 

Developers can build using the popular Solidity programming language, and by running on their own native tokens ($ICY and $ICZ), ICE and SNOW will provide practical alternatives for dApps seeking to circumvent the inflated gas fees on the Ethereum network.”

Fund your project with ICED Grants

ICE and SNOW are serious about development, and are putting their money where their ambitions are.

The network operates ICE Developer Grant Program (ICED Grants), a grant program dedicated to growing the SNOW and ARCTIC (testnet) developer community by providing funding for core infrastructure projects.

Grant recipients will have direct access to technical support from the core team while building on SNOW and ARCTIC.

OK, but when?

While the SNOW canary network will be running shortly, we’ll need to wait a bit more for ICE itself.

But not much more.

The ICE & SNOW Quarterly Roadmap mentions the ICE Polkadot crowdloan planning in Q4, 2022,” explains the team.

The ICE Network will be able to launch on Polkadot only after a successful ICE crowdloan and subsequent onboarding in the Polkadot ecosystem. For this, we are most likely looking at 2023.”

And when airdrop?

Here’s your answer, courtesy the ICE team.

All ICON community members can now check their SNOW token airdrop breakdown. Those who held the ICX token during the snapshot (taken at Block #44,123,130 on the ICON Blockchain) can connect their wallet and get a detailed breakdown of the upcoming SNOW token airdrop on 

It is only after SNOW launches as a parachain in the Kusama ecosystem, that users will be able to claim their eligible $ICZ tokens into their affiliated connected Kusama Wallet. The ICE Airdrop on Polkadot will occur after the ICE Crowdloan and subsequent onboarding in the Polkadot ecosystem.”