With the advent of novel elastic optical transponders allowing for fine rate granularity, network designers can maximize the throughput of current installed and future wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) infrastructures. In this sense, data flow can be properly optimized for each optical connection, while avoiding unnecessary margins. Such a connection mode of operation should rely on a simple mechanism. This paper illustrates how a SNR-driven self-optimization of optical connections is relevant for elastic WDM networks, especially when associated with probabilistic constellation shaping, allowing rate tunability while maximizing spectral efficiency. In addition, we study a WDM North American backbone network to quantify the savings brought by this self-optimization in terms of transponder equipment for 10 years, as compared to conventional planning usually relying upon “end of life” assumptions.
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