A serious problem facing wavelength-division multiplexed (WDM) networks with fiber amplifier cascades is transient cross-gain saturation or gain dynamics of fiber amplifiers. Attention has been focused primarily on circuit-switched scenarios. When the number of WDM channels transmitted through a circuit-switching network varies, channel addition/removal will tend to perturb signals at the surviving channels that share all or part of the route. Even more serious bit error rate deterioration can arise in WDM packet switched burst mode networks. In this paper, we present experimental and theoretical results demonstrating the effect of fast power transients in erbium-doped fiber amplifiers (EDFAs) on packetized traffic transmitted through a chain of five EDFAs. Traffic of a local-area network has been transmitted over three channels. The effect of EDFA cross-gain saturation due to the burstiness of the traffic has been observed in a continuous-wave monitoring channel. The stabilizing effect of gain clamping of the first EDFA in the cascade has been investigated. The experimental results are extended to eight-channel WDM system using a large signal numerical analysis.
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