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This article describes how bandwidth virtualization can enable transmission of ultra-high bandwidth 40 Gb/s and 100 Gb/s services over existing optical transport networks independently of the underlying network infrastructure. An overview of the technology alternatives available to enable high-bandwidth service transport is provided, along with a discussion of the relative merits of different approaches. The authors describe how wavelength division multiplexing, using large- scale photonic integrated circuits combined with the use of a digital virtual concatenation mapping protocol, can be used to enable decoupling of 40 Gb/s and 100 Gb/s service provisioning from the underlying optical link engineering, thereby enabling bandwidth virtualization. Real-world implementation examples of bandwidth virtualization are provided, including 40 Gb/s service transmission over a 2000-km fiber link with 65 ps of peak PMD, a field trial of 40 Gb/s service transmission over an 8477-km trans-oceanic network, and finally a field trial of a pre-standard 100 gigabit Ethernet service transmission over a 4000-km terrestrial long-haul network.