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The standardization of passive optical networks capable of transporting Ethernet frames at gigabit-per-second speeds, currently in progress in both ITU-T and IEEE, constitutes a major milestone toward cost-effective photonization of the last (aka first) mile. The article presents an Ethernet gigabit PON (GPON) system aligned with the philosophy of the evolving FSAN (full service access network) ITU-T specification, which focuses on the efficient support of any level of quality of service. The intelligence of this system, in terms of traffic quality guarantees, lies in the MAC protocol, which controls the distributed multiplexing/concentration function by allocating variable length slots to every user of the shared upstream (toward the network) medium. The way transport of information is organized in an ITU-T GPON system and the operation of a MAC protocol that preserves all QoS guarantees are presented and evaluated.