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We propose a simple and effective scheme for all-optical packet envelope detection (AO-PED), exploiting a slow saturable absorber-based vertical cavity semiconductor gate and a semiconductor optical amplifier. A high extinction ratio of 15 dB was measured for the recovered envelope signal. The scheme is suitable for photonic integration, and is transparent to the packet polarization state and data rate. It also shows relatively low sensitivity to the input packet wavelength compared to previous all-optical schemes. AO-PED is experimentally demonstrated at 12.5 and 40 Gb/s; the recovered envelope was used to drive a 1 2 all-optical switch for low-priority packets deflection in case of contention occurring between time-slotted synchronous packets. The deflected packets could be routed to a buffering stage or to a different path, depending on network topology, allowing thus contention resolution without packet loss. Error-free bit-error rate (BER) was achieved for packet payload data at the switch output.