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We present results on a low-cost cladding-pumped L-band amplifier based on side pumping (GTWave) fiber technology and pumped by a single 980-nm multimode diode. We show that simultaneous noise reduction and transient suppression can be achieved by using gain clamping by a seed signal (/spl lambda/=1564 nm). In the gain-clamping regime, the amplifier exhibits 30-dB gain over 1570-1605-nm spectral band with noise figure below 7 dB. The noise figure can be further reduced to below 5 dB by utilizing a low power single-mode pump at 980 nm. The erbium-doped fiber amplifier is relatively insensitive to input signal variations with power excursions below 0.15 dB for a 10-dB channel add-drop.