The explosive growth of data, particularly internet traffic has led to a dramatic increase in demand for transmission bandwidth imposing an immediate requirement for broadband networks. An additional driving force for higher capacity, enhanced functionality and flexibility networks is the increased trend for interactive exchange of data and multimedia communications. Due to the unpredictable and ever growing size of data files and messages exchanged over global distances the future communication network must be able to react rapidly to support end-to-end bandwidth requirements for transmission of messages and data files of any conceivable size encountered in real-life communications.
This publication is supported by COST. The primary objective of the COST 291 Action “Towards Digital Optical Networks” was to focus on novel network concepts, subsystems and architectures to enable future telecommunication networks, exploiting the features and properties of photonic technologies. These need to be very flexible and rapidly reactive to efficiently accommodate the abrupt and unpredictable changes in traffic statistics introduced by current and future applications with low end-to-end latency. They will enable advanced features such as efficient and simple multicasting and broadcasting of broadband signals. They need to support a future proof, flexible, efficient and bandwidth-abundant fiber-optic network infrastructure capable of supporting ubiquitous services in a resilient manner offering protection and restoration capabilities as well as secure services to the users.