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Fiber to the home is the future-proof technology for broadband access networks. Several fiber access network architectures have been developed (e.g., point-to-point, active optical network, and passive optical network). PON is considered the most promising solution due to the relatively low deployment cost and high resource efficiency. Meanwhile, because of the growing demand for reliable service delivery, fault management is becoming more significant in all parts of communications networks. However, there is a trade-off between the cost of protection and the level of service reliability. Since economical aspects are most critical in the access part of networks, improving reliability performance by duplication of network resources (and capital expenditures) could be too expensive. Therefore, recent work has focused on PON protection schemes with reduced CAPEX. The future trend will probably migrate toward minimizing operational expenditures during the access network lifetime. The main contributions of this article include providing a general method for CAPEX and OPEX analysis that can be applied to any type of fiber access network with consideration of changed component cost in time and variable take rates, and comparing the total cost (i.e., sum of CAPEX and OPEX) for the selected representative architectures with and without protection for business and residential users in relation to reliability performance. The aim is to give a guideline for the design of the most cost-effective protection schemes, while maintaining acceptable service reliability.