We present a study of the influence of dispersion induced phase noise for CO-OFDM systems using FFT multiplexing/IFFT demultiplexing techniques (software based). The software based system provides a method for a rigorous evaluation of the phase noise variance caused by Common Phase Error (CPE) and Inter-Carrier Interference (ICI) including – for the first time to our knowledge – in explicit form the effect of equalization enhanced phase noise (EEPN). This, in turns, leads to an analytic BER specification. Numerical results focus on a CO-OFDM system with 10–25 GS/s QPSK channel modulation. A worst case constellation configuration is identified for the phase noise influence and the resulting BER is compared to the BER of a conventional single channel QPSK system with the same capacity as the CO-OFDM implementation. Results are evaluated as a function of transmission distance. For both types of systems, the phase noise variance increases significantly with increasing transmission distance. For a total capacity of 400 (1000) Gbit/s, the transmission distance to have the BER < 10−2 for the worst case CO-OFDM design is less than 800 and 460 km, respectively, whereas for a single channel QPSK system it is less than 1400 and 560 km.
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