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In this paper, optical pulse encoding and decoding technology is proposed to enable real-time signaling in a passive optical network (PON) setting. Unique optical codes are assigned to selected optical network units (ONUs) equipped with the corresponding encoders. An out-of-band pulse train is broadcast from the optical line terminal (OLT) and is modulated by ONU-based switches. The encoded reflections of pulses are thus used to update the status of the OC-enabled queues at the OLT in real time. We explore the enhanced PON architecture and define its major design parameters. Through extensive simulations, we investigate the design principles and limits of our system parameters. Through a performance comparison of native interleaved polling with adaptive cycle time with its OC-enhanced counterpart, we show that our OC enhancement breaks the fundamental delay lower bound associated to the polling cycle. We propose and investigate new dynamic bandwidth allocation (DBA) algorithms that exploit real-time queue updates enabled through OC-enhanced polling. We also explore the pay-as-you-grow implementation of OC-enhanced polling to realize quality-of-service (QoS) differentiation, elaborate on possible migration paths from conventional PONs, and investigate absolute QoS performance guarantee improvements achieved through OC-enabled real-time DBA algorithms.