Reflective semiconductor optical amplifier fiber cavity lasers (RSOA-FCLs) are appealing, colorless, self-seeded, self-tuning and cost-efficient upstream transmitters. They are of interest for wavelength division multiplexed passive optical networks (WDM-PONs) based links. In this paper, we compare RSOA-FCLs with alternative colorless sources, namely the amplified spontaneous emission (ASE) spectrum-sliced and the externally seeded RSOAs. We compare the differences in output power, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), relative intensity noise (RIN), frequency response and transmission characteristics of these three sources. It is shown that an RSOA-FCL offers a higher output power over an ASE spectrum-sliced source with SNR, RIN and frequency response characteristics halfway between an ASE spectrum-sliced and a more expensive externally seeded RSOA. The results show that the RSOA-FCL is a cost-efficient WDM-PON upstream source, borrowing simplicity and cost-efficiency from ASE spectrum slicing with characteristics that are, in many instances, good enough to perform short-haul transmission. To substantiate our statement and to quantitatively compare the potential of the three schemes, we perform data transmission experiments at 5 and 10 Gbit/s.
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