We present the newly defined parameter S to quantify the power penalty due to a laser’s mode partition noise (MPN) for a fiber-optic system by assuming the system has a raised cosine pulse shape, an exponential probability distribution for the power of each mode in the laser source, and a negligible sum of the power covariance between each mode for the laser. These assumptions are different from the previous assumptions that a laser has a Gaussian spectrum shape and a constant output power from which the k factor can be defined to characterize MPN and from which the link limited length due to MPN is obtained.1,2 Like the k factor, the parameter S can be used to estimate a laser’s MPN.2 Unlike the k factor, S can be easily measured because of the approximation made of the exponential distribution for the power of each mode.

© 1988 Optical Society of America

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