Optical wireless systems represent one of the most promising approaches for addressing the emerging access market. These robust systems, which establish communications links by transmitting laser beams directly through the atmosphere, have matured to the point that mass-produced models will soon be available. Optical wireless systems offer many features, principal among them being low start-up and operational costs, rapid deployment, and high fiber-like bandwidths. Available systems offer capacities in the range of 100 Mbps to 2.5 Gbps, and demonstration systems report data rates as high as 160 Gbps. This paper presents an overview of the optical wireless industry, including benefits and limitations, and identifies the most advantageous applications.