Bandwidth and capacity demand in metro, regional, and long-haul networks is increasing at several tens of percent per year, driven by video streaming, cloud computing, social media and mobile applications. To sustain this traffic growth, an upgrade of the widely deployed 100-Gbit/s long-haul optical systems, based on polarization multiplexed quadrature phase-shift keying (PM-QPSK) modulation format associated with coherent detection and digital signal processing (DSP), is mandatory. In fact, optical transport techniques enabling a per-channel bit rate beyond 100 Gbit/s have recently been the object of intensive R and D activities, aimed at both improving the spectral efficiency and lowering the cost per bit in fiber transmission systems. In this invited contribution, we review the different available options to scale the per-channel bit-rate to 400 Gbit/s and beyond, i.e. symbol-rate increase, use of higher-order quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) modulation formats and use of super-channels with DSP-enabled spectral shaping and advanced multiplexing technologies. In this analysis, trade-offs of system reach, spectral efficiency and transceiver complexity are addressed. Besides scalability, next generation optical networks will require a high degree of flexibility in the transponders, which should be able to dynamically adapt the transmission rate and bandwidth occupancy to the light path characteristics. In order to increase the flexibility of these transponders (often referred to as “flexponders"), several advanced modulation techniques have recently been proposed, among which sub-carrier multiplexing, hybrid formats (over time, frequency and polarization), and constellation shaping. We review these techniques, highlighting their limits and potential in terms of performance, complexity and flexibility.