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A novel protection architecture for passive optical networks (PONs) is presented and evaluated. It is based on the cyclic property of arrayed waveguide gratings (AWGs) and the interconnection between two adjacent optical network units. The proposed scheme is compatible with both wavelength-division-multiplexing (WDM) PONs and hybrid WDM/time-division-multiplexing PONs. It is compared with two existing schemes and shown to have several advantages: 1) 50% less wavelengths is needed; 2) the fiber interconnections are simplified; 3) the connection availability is improved by one order of magnitude.