The concept of light tree is introduced in a wavelength routed optical network, which employs wavelength -division multiplexing (WDM).
Depending on the underlying physical topology networks can be classified into three generations:
a).First Generation: these networks do not employ fiber optic technology; instead they employ copper-based or microwave technology. E.g. Ethernet.
b).Second Generation: these networks use optical fibers for data transmission but switching is performed in electronic domain. E.g. FDDI.
c).Third Generation: in these networks both data transmission and switching is performed in optical domain. E.g. WDM.
WDM wide area networks employ tunable lasers and filters at access nodes and optical/electronic switches at routing nodes. An access node may transmit signals on different wavelengths, which are coupled into the fiber using wavelength multiplexers. An optical signal passing through an optical wavelength-routing switch (WRS) may be routed from an output fiber without undergoing opto-electronic conversion.
A light path is an all-optical channel, which may be used to carry circuit switched traffic, and it may span multiple fiber links. Assigning a particular wavelength to it sets these up. In the absence of wavelength converters, a light path would occupy the same wavelength continuity constraint.
A light path can create logical (or virtual) neighbors out of nodes that may be geographically far apart from each other. A light path carries not only the direct traffic between the nodes it interconnects, but also the traffic from nodes upstream of the source to nodes upstream of the destination. A major objective of light path communication is to reduce the number of hops a packet has to traverse.
Under light path communication, the network employs an equal number of transmitters and receivers because each light path operates on a point-to-point basis. However this approach is not able to fully utilize all of the wavelengths on all of the fiber links in the network, also it is not able to fully exploit all the switching capability of each WRS.
A light tree is a point to point multipoint all optical channel, which may span multiple fiber links. Hence, a light tree enables single-hop communication between a source node and a set of destination nodes. Thus, a light tree based virtual topology can significantly reduce the hop distance, thereby increasing the network throughput.
1. Multicast -capable wavelength routing switches (MWRS) at every node in the netwok.
2. More optical amplifiers in the network.