The big question is: Can Trellis deliver?
Actually, I think that's the small question.
Lots of companies are spending lots of research dollars these days on optical switching. They know how important (and profitable) a really good optical switch would be, and they also know that some first-generation optical switches have already been produced (check out Sycamore or Lucent or Ciena ). It's only a matter of time before the bugs are worked out and all-optical switches become common.
But that's not all. Tremendous bandwidth and dropping prices have fiber optic cable selling faster than anyone can make it. Every business and every home will soon have fiber internet connections, because the economics finally support it. Service providers don't want to construct, maintain, and administer three data networks (phone, cable TV, data) when they can do the same thing with one.
So that brings up the big question: As optical communication technology matures, how will it affect us?
For starters, it'll mean bigbig bandwidth, from a few dozen megabits and to several gigabits before long. After we knock ourselves out downloading a few dozen MP3s at breakneck speed, the novelty will wear off. We'll quickly take super-high-speed data for granted, as a natural part of the interface. We'll flip through thousands of TV channels or download movies whenever we want, leaving little reason for video stores, VCRs, or even DVD. Ditto for CDs and radio.
Separating out the different signals (telephone, video, and data) will mean having an electronic box in every house, and that will give a natural place for a network hub. Since people like to move their computers and TVs and phones around, network jacks will be in every room. That, in turn, will pave the way for all these smart appliances we've been hearing about, like refrigerators that talk to your Palm Pilot or thermostats that coordinate your windowshades.
Oh yeah--remember analog signaling? Fiber-to-the-home will be the end of it. Once all the information coming in and out of our homes is digital, we won't have any reasons left for analog. Forget audio tapes, videocassettes, analog telephones, all of that.
So those are my predictions. What do other people think about widespread optical networking? How will it affect our lives, and especially our culture?
(And in case you were wondering, I do indeed work for an optical cable company.)