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The last mile continues to be a major bottleneck in the Internet. Its low bandwidth and flexibility prevents the deployment of new services and the development of new applications. In this paper we present a summary of current efforts in access networks research, focusing in particular on fiber optic solutions. We present the Stanford University aCCESS (SUCCESS) initiative within the Photonics & Networking Research Laboratory (PNRL). As part of this initiative, two novel network architectures have been developed, SUCCESS-HPON and SUCCESS-DWA, which propose a smooth migration path from current TDM-PONs to future higher bandwidth, cost-efficient, scalable WDM-PONs. In addition, we present SUCCESS-LCO, a spectral-shaping line coding technique that enables a cost-effective shorter-term capacity upgrade of existing TDM-PONs. We discuss as well what we believe are the main open research areas in optical access networks.