Optical code-division multiple-access (OCDMA) is a technique well-suited for providing the required photonic connectivity in local access networks. Although the principles of OCDMA have been known for many years, it has never delivered on its potential. In this paper, we will describe the key challenges and impediments that have prevented OCDMA from delivering on its potential, as well as discuss possible solutions. We focus on the limitations of one-dimensional codes and the benefit of exploiting the additional degrees of freedom in using multiple dimensions for defining the codes. We discuss the advantages of using differential detection in order to implement bipolar communications. We then show how two-dimensional wavelength-time codes can be appropriately combined with differential detection in order to achieve high performance OCDMA systems with a large number of users operating with good BER performance for a large aggregate capacity. We also discuss the impact of channel coding techniques, for example forward error correction or turbo coding, on BER performance.