An original approach to the solution of the nonlinear Schrödinger equation (NLSE) is pursued in this paper, following the regular perturbation (RP) method. Such an iterative method provides a closed-form approximation of the received field and is thus appealing for devising nonlinear equalization/compensation techniques for optical transmission systems operating in the nonlinear regime. It is shown that, when the nonlinearity is due to the Kerr effect alone, the order N RP solution coincides with the order 2n+1 Volterra series solution proposed by Brandt-Pearce and co-workers. The RP method thus provides a computationally efficient way of evaluating the Volterra kernels, with a complexity comparable to that of the split-step Fourier method (SSFM). Numerical results on 10 Gb/s single-channel terrestrial transmission systems employing common dispersion maps show that the simplest third-order Volterra series solution is applicable only in the weakly nonlinear propagation regime, for peak transmitted power well below 5 dBm. However, the insight in the nonlinear propagation phenomenon provided by the RP method suggests an enhanced regular perturbation (ERP) method, which allows the first-order ERP solution to be fairly accurate for terrestrial dispersion-mapped systems up to launched peak powers of 10 dBm.


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