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In this paper, quality of transmission (QoT)-aware lightpath provisioning schemes for transparent optical networks are proposed and assessed. The main idea is to overcome lightpath blocking due to excessive physical impairments (i.e., unacceptable QoT) by means of successive lightpath set up attempts performed by generalized multiprotocol label switching (GMPLS) signaling protocol along alternate routes. The schemes are enabled by the introduction into current GMPLS signaling protocol [i.e., resource reservation protocol with traffic engineering (RSVP-TE)] of extensions which encompass the QoT parameters that characterize the optical layer. Differently from previous approaches, the proposed GMPLS-based schemes are still distributed but they do not imply the introduction of additional extensions into the routing protocol (e.g., OSPF-TE). The QoT-aware provisioning schemes are first validated by simulations performed on a WDM mesh network. Results show that only few successive set up attempts are required to complete the lightpath establishment. In addition, an experimental demonstration where the proposed RSVP-TE extensions are implemented in the control plane of a transparent metro network is reported showing that impairment-aware lightpath provisioning is achieved on a time scale of few milliseconds.