If you follow tech news even casually, you’ve no doubt noticed a steady uptick in the number of articles about ‘smart homes’ and ‘multi-play’. Well, maybe “uptick” isn’t the right word, since it has actually been more of an explosion.

The key for service providers is multi-play, the ability to provide a number of different media services, such as Internet access, television, security monitoring and telephone service, over a single broadband connection. ISPs need “last mile solutions” to deliver the bandwidth necessary for on-demand video, digital TV, high-speed Internet, wireless applications, and more. Whether a copper or a fiber installation is required, these solutions keep smart homes running smoothly, and to connect them to the so-called “Internet of Things” (or IoT).

What exactly is a smart home? It’s simple, really: a smart home is one that contains a network of interconnected devices, which often gain emergent capabilities through their ability to interact. According to Wikipedia, “These additional capabilities can then be used to increase the quality of life inside the home in a variety of ways, such as automation of repetitive tasks, increased personal productivity, enhanced home security, and easier access to entertainment.”

Customers may want to monitor their home security system using a smartphone or stream web content to every part of the house, it’s all possible now (and will become even easier as we’re able to move more data at greater speeds). In fact, this technology has become so ubiquitous, and so affordable, that home-automation hubs and do-it-yourself smart-home kits have become the stuff of holiday gift guides. Look for structured wiring enclosures to connect a state of the art smart home.

As a recent TechCrunch article put it, “Whether we’re ready for it or not, we’re rapidly evolving toward a world where just about everything will be connected.” The U.S.-based tech-research firm Gartner, Inc., says that by 2020, the number of IoT devices “will grow to 26 billion units installed in 2020 representing an almost 30-fold increase from 0.9 billion in 2009.”

Needless to say, there is no shortage of companies hoping to take us there, from tiny startups with Indiegogo campaigns to major players including Apple, Google, Samsung, and Amazon.