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The wavelength selection mechanism of a compact integrated multiwavelength ring laser is demonstrated. The device contains four semiconductor optical amplifiers, a compact arrayed waveguide grating and passive waveguides integrated on a single InP wafer. The device can produce seven different wavelengths through biasing one or two out of the four amplifiers. Comparison of calculated and measured subthreshold laser spectra demonstrates the role of crosstalk in the arrayed waveguide grating in the laser and allows the crosstalk to be quantified. A rate-equation model of the laser and measurements are presented that describe the switching between wavelengths of the laser as a function of bias currents. A comparison between the measured data and the model is made.