The deployment of translucent optical networks is considered the most promising short term solution to decrease costs and energy consumption in optical backbone networks. In fact, translucent wavelength switched optical networks (WSONs) have recently received great attention from the research community due to their technological maturity. However, the inflexibility and coarse granularity of WSONs is (re-)fostering research interest in sub-wavelength switching technologies such as optical burst switching (OBS). In OBS, however, the majority of research works neglect the impact of physical layer impairments by considering either fully transparent (i.e., with optical 3R regeneration) or opaque (i.e., with electrical 3R regeneration) networks. For this very reason, in this paper we present a translucent OBS (T-OBS) network architecture which aims at bridging the gap between the transparent and opaque solutions. In the T-OBS network the problem of routing and regenerator placement and dimensioning (RRPD) emerges. Joint RRPD is a complex problem and, in order to approach it, we propose to decompose it into the routing and RPD subproblems. As a consequence, we provide a mixed integer linear programming formulation of the routing problem and several heuristic strategies for the RPD problem. Illustrative numerical results prove the effectiveness of these methods at minimizing the number of electrical 3R regenerators deployed in the network. Considering a broad range of network topologies, we show that the proposed RPD heuristics ensure a proper quality of transmission performance whilst at the same time providing a cost-effective T-OBS network architecture.
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