In a communication network for communication between a plurality of nodes over a multi-channel communication medium 6, the network has a number of allocatable channels, . . . for data communication between nodes and a control channel 26 for allocating the allocatable channels to individual nodes. At least one of the channels operates under a token-passing protocol with a limited message packet length whereby selected messages may be sent between nodes with a predetermined maximum delay. The token-passing channel may be the control channel, and the message packets transmitted by the nodes over the control channel may comprise messages for negotiating the allocation of the allocatable channels to the individual nodes. Alternatively, or additionally, message packets comprising data messages unconnected with negotiating the allocation of the allocatable channels may be sent over such a token-passing channel. More than two nodes may be permitted to communicate on one of the allocatable channels, thereby establishing a logical sub-network which can operate using any desired protocol over the allocated channel.