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The ten gigabit passive optical network (XG-PON) system is the newest member of the ITU-T family of passive optical network standards. XG-PON is the result of a 3 year project involving the full service access network (FSAN) group and ITU-T study group 15 (SG15) question 2. This paper reviews the deliberations that led to the selection of the XG-PON system, and then explains the three primary layers of the system: physical, protocol, and management. The paper concludes with information on standards and implementations of the system, and on future work in this area.