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Users with an internet connection can easily access a public network. They can read, create, or validate transactions executed on the blockchain, and a consensus mechanism makes agreement on the state of the network possible.
Mainnet is the primary public XDC production blockchain, where live transactions with real value are executed on the distributed ledger. For example, when the price of XDC is being discussed, the XDC mainnet is what's at issue.
Testnets are the networks used by smart contract developers to test smart contracts and protocol upgrades before deployment to the mainnet.
Testnet is the best place to test smart contracts. Deployment tools can be configured to connect to the testnet, and new code can be deployed at no cost.
Since the testnet ecosystem is fundamentally no different than the mainnet ecosystem, all mainnet features, like voting, running a masternode, and experimenting with dApps, can be tried out on the testnet at no cost.