Communications Industry Researchers in Charlottesville, Va., projects that US demand for optical switch components and subassemblies may bloom from today's $152 million market to a $1.1 billion trade by 2005 -- if the technology can overcome early challenges. Switches based on microelectromechanical systems, in either two- or three-dimensional configurations, show the highest growth curve, totaling just under $600 million by 2005. However, these systems first must address questions linked to their availability and reliability, especially in comparison with established optical-electrical-optical systems. Network protection applications could drive growth in a range of solid-state switch technologies, which generally carry few-er ports but deliver fast switching speeds. The study predicts growth for these and other all-optical devices based on liquid crystals.