The growth of RPR in metropolitan optical networks, has been due to the requirement of sub-wavelength granularity and dynamic provisioning between nodes in a 2-ringlet optical network. The solution of creating opto-electro-opto conversion at each node and then processing individually the information being sent on each wavelength leads to expensive equipment cost as well as issues such as strict synchronization and limited bit-rate. Light-trails, on the other hand provides a solution that optically is able to broker the bandwidth between multiple nodes on the same wavelength leading to low cost implementations, while guaranteeing the dynamic bandwidth requirements that are a necessary prelude to provisioning revenue bearing services. A light-trail is a generalization of a lightpath [5], such that multiple nodes on the trail can take part in unidirectional communication within the trail without the need for optical switch reconfiguration. Light-trails can be pragmatically implemented [1] and provide for sub-wavelength optical communication by creating time differentiated flows between individual nodes. In this paper we study the implementation of light-trails to facilitate RPR. Through a simulation study we identify the constraints that affect a light-trail network and how it performs as compared to an RPR network. The intuitive benefit in cost savings using a light-trail network is somewhat offset by the need for aggregation of traffic at the data layer (like RPR) as well as the wastage of bandwidth in the broadcast medium (light-trail).

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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