The application of single mode fibre to the local network environment opens up major opportunities for service provision via shared access networks. Previous technologies (copper pair, coaxial cable and multimode fibre) had bandwidth limitation problems that placed a severe restriction on both the level of resource sharing and the service package that could be delivered. The enormous bandwidth capability of single mode fibre can be used to provide significant resource sharing without incurring fundamental restrictions on the capacity of the services carried. The paper briefly outlines some of the activities within British Telecom on shared access systems. Early systems concepts were either based on fibre feeders to remote multiplexers for the delivery of telephony and data services to large customers or the use of advanced wavelength multiplexing techniques over passive optical networks for the transmission of wideband services to business and residential customers. Recently activity has concentrated on a passive optical network that shows good potential for the economic provision of telephony services. The structure of the network allows the later addition of broadband services via additional wavelengths without disturbing existing telephony/data customers. The basic network has a fibre feeder from the exchange to passive optical splitters housed at the Cabinet and Distribution Points (DP). Each customer receives a fibre from DP and via this a TDM multiplex broadcast from the exchange which carries the customer's traffic. The customer equipment accesses the time slots destined for the customer and delivers the data via a suitable interface to provide the services required. Customers transmit back to the exchange in a time multiplex synchronised by a ranging protocol that sets an appropriate delay in the customer equipment to avoid collisions at the optical combiners in the DPs and Cabinet. Present studies are considering a total optical split of 128 ways with a transmission rate of 20 Mbit/s. This allows an attractive set of service options for both business and residential customers. Sufficient capacity is available to feed up to 120 customers (allowing 8 spare optical test points within the network) with 144 kbit/s ISDN connection. Business customers requiring more capacity would access multiple time slots as required up to the limitations of system capacity.