Multicasting in the optical domain has been recently shown to provide substantial savings in terms of the network-wide average packet hop distance and the total number of transceivers in the network. Current proposed multicasting architectures [e.g., Splitter-and-Delivery (SaD)] employ power splitting mechanisms which have the side effect of high fabrication cost due to the large number of splitters and the need for optical amplifiers. We propose a low-cost novel architecture called Tap-and-Continue (TaC) for realizing multicasting. This architecture provides a natural evolution from current unicast cross-connects and is based on tapping devices. We prove that any multicasting session can be feasibly realized in networks employing only TaC cross-connects, and the problem of finding the optimal multiple-destination minimum cost trail in such networks is NP-complete. Therefore, we develop a 4-approximation algorithm for multiple-destination routing. Simulation results demonstrate that the TaC cross-connect provides a realistic, cost-effective approach for implementing multicasting with negligible blocking degradation especially in multifiber networks.
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