Alone with the commonly used, but rather conservative, methods to increase the fiber capacity (e.g. introducing of other than C and L wavelength band and respective amplifiers, see for example), new, intelligent approaches have appeared. Among these are elastic optical networking, spectral extension to multi-bands, and spatial expansion using modified fiber types. Some of these approaches are ready to be implemented, while the others still require further development. There is an evident demand of systematization of these new approaches for both scientists and engineers working in area of optical fiber communication.
The presented tutorial surveys the mentioned above modern approaches. It covers new prospective solutions for switching photonic hardware allowing further information capacity extension. Authors also consider the respective evolution of the reconfigurable add/drop multiplexers and analyze their relative costs variation.
There is an evident trade-off between complexity of the proposed switching architecture and cost increase for future high-capacity SDM-WDM optical networks. In addition to the cost arguments, other various switching constrains e.g. such as routing of complete spatial superchannels have to be carefully taken into consideration, especially for the case of weakly loaded systems.
Nevertheless, the new wavelength-selective switch designs offering flexibility in routing information channels in both the spectral and spatial domains are evolving rapidly and become more and more attractive for network operators. These new designs support significantly more efficient solutions in terms of resolution, functionality and packing density, and compatibility with multiple input and output ports.
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