Pumping erbium-doped fiber amplifiers (EDFAs) at 980 nm provides the best overall performance achievable. However, it is a relatively narrow band and the constraints this imposes on pump laser wavelength have been sources of continuing concern [1,2]. Recently it has been found that the restrictions are less severe than had been originally believed [3,4], and these relaxed tolerances may lower the overall cost of the EDFA as well as reduce the impact of temperature-induced wavelength drifts in the pump laser wavelength. To further elucidate this situation, we have examined the effects of pump wavelength, λp, on the signal output of both power and small-signal amplifiers. Experimental and theoretical investigations of the tradeoffs between gain and noise as a result of detuning the pump wavelength are presented, together with the first measurements of noise penalties for small-signal EDFAs induced by off-peak pump wavelengths. For both power and small-signal amplifiers, a decrease in gain of less than 1 dB, with an associated increase of <1 dB in noise figure, is observed when the pump is varied over a range of 30 nm centered at 979 nm.

© 1992 Optical Society of America

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