We perform experimental and numerical investigations of the transmission reach of polarization-switched QPSK (PS-QPSK) and polarization-multiplexed QPSK (PM-QPSK) for three different fiber span lengths: 83, 111 and 136 km. In the experimental comparison we investigate the performance of PS-QPSK at 20 Gbaud and PM-QPSK at the same bit rate (60 Gbit/s) and at the same symbol rate, both the single channel case and a WDM system with 9 channels on a 50 GHz grid. We show that PS-QPSK gives significant benefits in transmission reach for all span lengths. Compared to PM-QPSK, use of PS-QPSK increases the reach with more than 41% for the same symbol rate and 21% for the same bit rate. In the numerical simulations we use the same data rates as in the experiment. The simulation results agree well with the experimental findings, but the transmission reach is longer due to the absence of various non-ideal effects and higher back-to-back sensitivity. Apart from using data coded in the absolute phase in the simulations, we also investigate differentially coded PS-QPSK for the first time and compare with PM-QPSK with differential coding. The power efficiency advantage of PS-QPSK then increases with approximately 0.3 dB at a bit error rate of 10−3, resulting in a further relative transmission reach improvement over PM-QPSK. Both the experimental and the numerical results indicate that PS-QPSK has slightly higher tolerance to inter-channel nonlinear crosstalk than PM-QPSK.
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