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In this paper, a new shared protection mechanism for meshed optical networks is presented. Significant network design cost reductions can be achieved in comparison to the well-known 1+1 protection scheme. Demand-wise shared protection (DSP) bases on the diversification of demand routings and exploits the network connectivity to restrict the number of backup lightpaths needed to provide the desired level of protection. Computational experiments approve the benefits of the concept DSP for cost efficient optical network designs.