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An innovative burst-mode laser transmitter (BM-TX) is presented for gigabit-capable passive optical network (GPON) upstream transmission at 1.25 Gb/s. The laser bias and modulation current each can reach 80 mA with a resolution of 0.1 mA providing a total drive current up to 160 mA. Both currents are generated by 10-bit current steering digital-to-analog converters (DACs), the architecture of which is specially adapted to yield a monotonic current setting at settling times below 12.8 ns. Tests show that fast automatic power control (APC) can stabilize and track the launched optical power with a tolerance of less than 1 dB over a wide temperature range for outdoor operation. The APC only requires a straightforward calibration of the "0" and the "1" level at room temperature. Optical level monitoring on strings of four consecutive "0" bytes and two consecutive "1" bytes at 1.25 Gb/s is demonstrated. APC based on such short strings of data has not been shown before. The circuits have been designed in a 0.35 μm SiGe BiCMOS process. Experimental results show that this dc-coupled BM-TX meets the specifications of the recently approved ITU-T Recommendation G.984.2 supporting an intelligent power leveling mechanism (PLM).