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This paper outlines an approach, called the optical border gateway protocol (OBGP) of extending the BGP routing protocol to support light path setup and management across an optical network. OBGP is a distributed approach, which gives more control to the edge customer and allows customers to better manage their optical wavelengths. It provides an interdomain routing/signaling solution that integrates heterogeneous domains into an end-to-end optical network and can coexist with most of the existing intradomain solutions. OBGP has the capability of setting up light paths in both networks with wavelength converters as well as in networks without wavelength converters. By combining routing with signaling in OBGP, signaling functions can leverage some features of existing routing functions and thus provide a lightweight solution. The development of OBGP has been discussed by reviewing current BGP behavior and design requirements for OBGP. An implementation of OBGP using simulation tools has been presented, along with initial test results, which have shown that a seamless migration from BGP to OBGP is possible.