For decades, optical networks have provided larger bandwidths than could be utilized, but with the increasing growth of the global Internet traffic demand, new optical transmission technologies are required to provide a much higher data rate per channel and to enable more flexibility in the allocation of traffic flow. Currently, researchers are investigating innovative transceiver architectures capable of dynamically adapting the modulation format to the transmission link properties. These transceivers are referred to as elastic and enable flexible allocation of optical bandwidth resources. To exploit their capabilities, the conventional fixed spectrum grid has to evolve to provide a more scalable and flexible system that can provide the spectral resources requireded to serve the client demand. The benefits of elastic transceivers with distance-adaptive data rates have been evaluated in optical core networks, but their application to metro ring networks has still not been addressed. This paper proposes methods based on integer linear programs and heuristic approaches to solve the routing, modulation level, and spectrum assignment problem in optical rings with elastic transceivers and rate-adaptive modulation formats. Moreover, we discuss how to analytically compute feasible solutions that provide useful upper bounds. Results show a significant reduction in terms of transceiver utilization and spectrum occupation.
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