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Chapter 1. Introduction to Optical Networks > 1.6 Optical Packet Switching

1.6 Optical Packet Switching

Thus far we have talked about optical networks that provide lightpaths. These networks are essentially circuit-switched. Researchers are also working on optical networks that can perform packet switching in the optical domain. Such a network would be able to offer virtual circuit services or datagram services, much like what is provided by IP and MPLS networks. With a virtual circuit connection, the network offers what looks like a circuit-switched connection between two nodes. However, the bandwidth offered on the connection can be smaller than the full bandwidth available on a link or wavelength. For instance, individual connections in a future highspeed network may operate at 10 Gb/s, while transmission bit rates on a wavelength could be 100 Gb/s. Thus the network must incorporate some form of time division multiplexing to combine multiple connections onto the transmission bit rate. At these rates, it may be easier to do the multiplexing in the optical domain rather than in the electronic domain. This form of optical time division ....fixed or statistical. Those that perform statistical multiplexing are called optical packet-switched networks. For simplicity we will talk mostly about optical packet switching. Fixed OTDM can be thought of as a subset of optical packet switching where the multiplexing is fixed instead of statistical.


  

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