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A 50-MBd active star fiber optical Iocal area network (LAN) and its optical combiner and mixing rod splitter are presented. The limited power budget and relatively large tapping losses of lightwave technology, which limit the use of fiber optics in tapped bus LAn topologies, are examined and proven tolerable in optical star topologies. The optical combiner and splitter, compononets necessary for such a network, have been fabricated and evaluated. The optical combiner, consisting, of a fiber bundle couled to a large-area p-i-n photodetector, and the mixing rod splitter, which had an insertion lodd of 19.8dB±1.4dB (including splitting loss), are shown to have suitable characteristics for the 50-MBd 32-node active optical star network. This star topology. proposed as an internetwork gateway which uses token-passing or polling protocol for packet switched data transmission, could be enhanced with wavelength-division multiplexing to provide both packet switched data and frequency division circuit switched real-time video and voice services network. Applications suggested for such a gateway or netwrok include health car information systems and factory automation.