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A physical model of 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) optical communications systems based on 50-μm graded-index multimode fibers (MMFs) is presented in this paper. It includes a model of vertical cavity surface emitting lasers (VCSELs) that accounts for the spatiotemporal dynamic of such transversally multimode lasers, commonly used in 10 GbE optical systems, and an accurate MMF model. This complete model is compared to the 10 GBASE-S Link Budget Spreadsheet developed within the IEEE P802.3ae 10 GbE Task Force and to experimental transmissions. Finally, VCSEL-to-MMF interactions and their impacts on 10 GbE transmissions are detailed and explained.