This paper reviews the work carried out under the European ACTS KEOPS (KEys to Optical Packet Switching) project, centering on the definition, development and assessment of optical packet switching and routing networks capable of providing transparency to the payload bit rate. The adopted approach uses optical packets of fixed duration with low bit rate headers to facilitate processing at the network/node interfaces. The paper concentrates on the networking concepts developed in the KEOPS project through a description of the implementation issues pertinent to optical packet switching nodes and network/node interfacing blocks, and consideration of the network functionalities provided within the optical packet layer. The implementation, from necessity, relies on advanced optoelectronic components specifically developed within the project, which are also briefly described.
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