SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 10 -- While the entire telecommunications equipment industry is experiencing strong growth, an analyst with Banc of America Securities sees the optical networking sector providing particular opportunities for investors. In the past year, an investment in a group of leading telecom systems suppliers returned 300 percent; leading optical components providers posted returns of 700 percent during the same period. Over the next several years, communications carriers will re-build a global network that took 100 years to establish, said Chris LeBlanc, senior telecommunications equipment and data networking analyst with the bank. We will eventually see public networks shift to all optical networks to provide carriers with additional capacity and flexibility. LeBlanc predicts that the network of the future will be dominated on the service level by Internet protocol applications carried over wavelengths of light. He expects sales of broadband access equipment, optical transmission equipment and high-speed switch/routers to increase by more than 30 percent annually over the next several years. LeBlanc outlined his forecast at the recent 17th Annual Banc of America Securities' Technology Conference in San Francisco.