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Technology already exists that would allow future optical networks to support automatic lightpath configuration in response to dynamic traffic demands. Given appropriate commercial drivers, it is possible to foresee carrier network operators migrating away from semipermanent provisioning to enable on-demand short-duration communications. However, with traditional lightpath reservation protocols, a portion of the lightpath is idly held during the signaling propagation phase, which can significantly reduce the lightpath bandwidth efficiency in large wavelength-division multiplexed backbones. This paper proposes a prebooking mechanism to improve the lightpath efficiency over traditional reactive two-way reservation protocols, consequently liberating network resources to support higher traffic loads. The prebooking mechanism predicts the time when the traffic will appear at the optical cross connects, and intelligently schedules the lightpath components such that resources are only consumed as necessary. We describe the proposed signaling procedure for both centralized and distributed control planes and analyze its performance. This paper also investigates the aggregated flow length characteristics with the self-similar incident traffic and examines the effects of traffic prediction on the blocking probability as well as the ability to support latency sensitive traffic in a wide-area environment.