The flexibility and elasticity of the spectrum is an important topic today. As the capacity of deployed fiber-optic systems is becoming scarce, it is vital to shift towards solutions ensuring higher spectral efficiency. Working in this direction, we report an extensive experimental study on adaptive allocation of superchannels in spectrum-flexible heterogeneous optical network. In total, three superchannels were transmitted. Two 5-subcarrier 14-GHz-spaced, 14 Gbaud, polarization-division-multiplexed (PDM) quadrature-phase-shift-keyed (QPSK) superchannels were separated by a spectral gap, the band of interest (BOI). The bandwidth of the BOI was varied. The BOI was subsequently filled with another superchannel, constituted by a different number of either 14 Gbaud PDM-QPSK or PDM-16-ary quadrature amplitude modulation (16-QAM) subcarriers. The optical signal-to-noise ratio (OSNR) for transmission of the subcarriers inserted into the BOI, depending on the modulation format, subcarrier count and spacing to the neighboring superchannels, was extracted through experimental implementation of different scenarios. The obtained values were interpolated to yield the required OSNR necessary to maintain a bit error rate of the central BOI subcarrier. The results provide a rule of thumb that can be exploited in resource allocation mechanisms of future spectrum-flexible optical networks.
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