This paper deals with the ring network architectures for provision of switched broadband services. After a cost comparison of several architectures based on SDH and ATM self-healing rings, the paper proposes the self-healing wheel topology and protocol. The self-healing wheel leads to simpler peripheral nodes, allows the possibility of using existing SDH add/drop multiplexer nodes and achieves bandwidth utilisation superior to an ATM ring. It also provides the opportunity of offering non-protected services up to the level of an equivalent star topology. It is shown that in high growth environments, the self-healing wheel will outperform all the other architectures in terms of cost and efficiency. © 1998 IEEE.