We quantify the benefits of using different techniques for compensation of polarization mode dispersion (PMD) in fiber-optic communication systems by means of numerical simulations. This is done both with respect to PMD-induced pulse broadening and in terms of system outage probability for different data formats [nonreturn-to-zero (NRZ) and return-to-zero (RZ)]. Attention is focused on simple and relevant single-and double-stage post-transmission compensators with a few degrees of freedom (DOF). It is generally believed that a PMD compensator with a polarization controller and a variable delay line can only compensate the PMD to the first order. We show, from analytical results, the counterintuitive fact that this scheme can also partially compensate for higher order PMD. We also investigate the benefit of using a polarizer as compensation element where the optical average power can be used as a feedback signal.


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