This paper proposes and experimentally demonstrates an automatic-protection-switching (APS) mechanism against distribution fiber breaks in passive optical networks (PONs). The protection of optical-network units (ONUs) that are located at the customer premises is carried out by monitoring the distribution fiber using the traffic that is transported among the customers in the PON. This configuration emulates a local area network (LAN) over the existing PON while facilitating the switching of signal transmissions to a predetermined protection path in an event of a distribution fiber break. As failure detection and APS are performed independently by each ONU in a distributed manner, the processing complexities and delays are reduced at the central office (CO). The restoration of the traffic transported between the CO and an ONU in the event of the distribution fiber break is performed by interconnecting adjacent ONUs and carrying out signal transmissions via an independent but interconnected ONU. Such a protection mechanism enables multiple adjacent ONUs to be simultaneously protected by a single ONU utilizing its maximum available bandwidth. This paper experimentally verifies the feasibility of the proposed protection mechanism in conjunction with two different LAN-emulation schemes with a 1.25-Gb/s upstream baseband transmission to the CO and a 155-Mb/s LAN data transmission on a radio-frequency carrier. The experimental results obtained from both schemes are compared, and the power budgets are calculated to analyze the scalability of each scheme.