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Passive optical network (PON) is one of the most successful broadband access architectures being deployed worldwide. PONs provide high capacity, increased reach, and low-power consumption at a very reasonable cost, on par with the cost of DSL deployments today. This paper provides an overview of present and emerging PON technologies, and discusses PON's important role in the evolution of optical access from the architectural perspective. While describing the evolution of optical access architecture, we present two important integration options: optical+wireless access integration and metro+access integration. Potential PON capacity upgrades are discussed with special emphasis on achieving a seamless upgrade. We evaluate different PON evolution strategies in the context of next-generation PON, where gradual, demand-based migration demonstrates a number of significant benefits.