Dynamic optical wavebands are disclosed that allow a plurality of user streams having a common destination node to be positioned in a substantially adjacent non-overlapping manner on a spectrum for treatment as a routable entity. Each waveband has an associated center wavelength and spectral extent. The plurality of user streams can optionally be encrypted using a corresponding cipher. Wavebands that are received by a network node are filtered so that individual wavebands can be isolated, if necessary. For example, individual wavebands can be switched to an appropriate output node for forwarding in the optical network. In addition, the center wavelength and spectral extent of a waveband can be converted, if necessary, to position the waveband substantially spectrally adjacent to another waveband sharing a common path portion. In this manner, the substantially spectrally adjacent wavebands can be treated as an aggregated waveband for the common portion of a path. The disclosed wavebands can be processed only as an optical signal. The center wavelength, spectral extent and routing information associated with each waveband can optionally be processed as out-of-band signals.