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As 100-Gb/s digital coherent systems enter commercial deployment, an effort is underway to uncover the technologies that will enable the next-generation optical fiber communication systems. We envisage that future optical transport will be software-defined, enabling flexible allocation of bandwidth resources, with dynamically adjustable per-channel data rates based on instantaneous traffic demand and quality-of-service requirements, leading to unprecedented network agility. Software-defined transponders will have the programmability to adopt various modulation formats, coding rates, and the signal bandwidth based on the transmission distance and type of fiber. Digital signal processing will become increasingly ubiquitous and sophisticated, capable of compensating all types of channel impairments, enabling advanced forward error correction coding, and performing functions previously handled poorly by optical analog hardware such as spectrum shaping and demultiplexing of optical channels.