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This paper provides an overview of European activities in the field of optical local-area networks (LAN's). The fully developed systems are currently at the process control and automation stage. Comparative estimates of the cost effectiveness of optical and electrical LAN's in industrial applications favor the optical systems. To date, deterministic protocols have predominately been used. Statistical access protocols are favored by Ethernet and are gaining in importance. Recent developments aim at mixed protocols which allow simultaneous transmission of both speech and data. The most important characteristics and results obtained with different optical LAN's are compared in a table.