In flexi-grid optical networks, fragmentation of spectrum resources may significantly affect the overall network efficiency. Effective techniques for defragmentation (i.e., re-optimization) are then required to limit the wasting of spectrum resources. However, current defragmentation techniques can only be implemented thanks to the presence of additional resources, such as spare expensive transponders. In this study, we propose, discuss and evaluate a novel defragmentation technique called push-pull. The technique is based on dynamic lightpath frequency retuning upon proper reconfiguration of allocated spectrum resources. It does not require additional transponders and does not determine traffic disruption. All the relevant technological limitations that may affect the push-pull applicability are discussed in the context of both optically-amplified direct and coherent detection systems. The technique is then successfully demonstrated in two different flexi-grid network testbeds, reproducing the two aforementioned scenarios. In particular, the reoptimization of a 10 Gb/s OOK lightpath is safely completed in few seconds (mainly due just to node configuration latencies) without experiencing any traffic disruption. Similarly, the push-pull is successfully performed on a 100 Gb/s PM-QPSK lightpath, providing no traffic disruption.
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