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This paper reports on theoretical and experimental investigations of the influence of the number of GaInNAs quantum wells (QWs) on performance of 1.3-μm vertical-cavity semiconductor optical amplifiers (VCSOAs). Full characterization is carried out for two optically pumped VCSOAs with 6 and 15 QWs in the active layer. The 15-QW amplifier is found to be more efficient for amplification purposes but the highest gain to date was obtained for a 6-QW GaInNAs VCSOA, 19-dB on-chip gain in single-mode operation, having a top mirror reflectivity of 97.7%. At high-gain and for low enough reflectivity, the intrinsic noise figure is smaller than 5 dB.