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GaAs traveling-wave electrooptic modulators based on the planar microstrip structure (PMS) have been thoroughly characterized theoretically and a near-optimal design is proposed. The optical, microwave, and modulator performance are investigated in detail. The structure is simple to fabricate and so should provide cost advantages. An electrical 3-dB bandwidth of about 15 GHz (optical 3-dB bandwidth of about 40 GHz) is obtained for our best design.