Designing optical fiber networks of the future

Title of the research project

Flex-ON - Flexible Optical Networks – Time Domain Hybrid QAM: DSP and Physical Layer Modelling 

Scientific area 

Optical Communications, Digital Signal Processing, Telecommunication Networks

Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow 

Fernando Pedro Pereira Guiomar


The delivery of fast Internet connections all over Europe is a primary goal of Horizon 2020. The Flex-ON project has contributed to the development of new technological paradigms in terms of signal generation, digital processing and control-plane management for novel flexible and high-capacity transport optical networks.

Description of the research project 

The provision of generalized access to high-speed Internet is a key directive for the European growth strategy. The Digital Agenda for Europe has set the ambitious goal of providing broadband Internet connections (>30 Mbps) to all European households, including at least 50% coverage at 100 Mbps by 2020. This requires a significant R&D effort on high-capacity optical fiber networks, which are nowadays the key supporting infrastructure for high-speed and global Internet access. The main technical objective of the Flex-ON project was to develop and implement a flexible transceiver prototype with intelligent reconfigurability and arbitrarily low bitrate granularity, which is a key technology to enable a substantial improvement of the installed network capacity, while providing a future-proof flexible solution for an increasingly heterogeneous global network. In order to bring its scientific achievements closer to the industrial reality, the Flex-ON project included a 5-month secondment stage in collaboration with Cisco Optical GmbH, Nuremberg, Germany. This secondment has provided a unique opportunity for the research fellow to join an experienced group of hardware engineers in a major telecom player, thus enabling to bring the developed research work closer to the optical communications industry.

Impact on fellow career and on society  

The Marie Curie fellowship has played a decisive role on the fellow’s career, providing his first post-doctoral experience with an internationally-recognized research group at Politecnico di Torino, where he has developed a set of a new critical skills. Besides, the industrial secondment has provided the fellow with a unique experience, which cannot be achieved in typical academic environments, significantly boosting the attractiveness of his CV and opening new career opportunities for the near future. At the societal level, the Flex-ON project has provided an important contribution, through the development of a set of enabling technologies for the provisioning of ubiquitous high-speed internet connectivity.

Short CV of Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow

Fernando Guiomar received the M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering from University of Aveiro, Portugal, in 2009 and 2015, respectively. In 2015, he has received a Marie Skłodowska-Curie post-doctoral fellowship (2-years) to work with the OptCom group of Politecnico di Torino. In 2017, he has joined Instituto de Telecomunicações - Aveiro as an assistant researcher responsible for the national research infrastructure ORCIP (, aimed to the testing and prototyping of future 5G solutions involving novel optical and radio technologies.
Fernando Guiomar has co-authored more than 80 scientific publications in leading international journals and conferences. In 2016, he has received the Photonics21 Student Innovation Award, distinguishing industrial-oriented research with high impact in Europe.


Andrea Carena, DET - Department of Electronics and Telecommunications, Politecnico di Torino

Partner Organisation

Cisco Optical GmbH, Nuremberg, Germany

Flex-ON  project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 653412

  • Budget: 180.270 euro
  • Start date: 16/10/2015
  • End date: 15/10/2017