Measurements of pulse spreading in three graded index fibers have been performed over an extensive range of wavelengths, including regions in which the index profiles become optimal and the bandwidths correspondingly high. The refractive index distributions and profile dispersion parameter have been measured and used in a ray-tracing algorithm in order to predict bandwidths. Comparison reveals that averaging processes on the index data are usually necessary to account for noncircularity of the fiber and small variations in the deduced profile caused by the wavelength dependence of the near-field intensity distribution. Results obtained by this means usually tend to slightly underestimate the true fiber bandwidth, while alpha-profile predictions always result in overestimates by about one order of magnitude. Remaining discrepancies between measured and predicted bandwidths are attributed to small variations of the index profiles along the fiber length
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