(Editor’s note: The Broadband Report is a regular feature in WRAL TechWire.)

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – The Internet of Things. The Internet of Everything.

We’ve all heard these monikers in some form or fashion the last couple of years. But, what we don’t hear much about is how all this “smart” integration requires pervasive connectivity with highly-reliable, low latency bandwidth.

To paint the picture better, smart home and IoT research from Parks Associates recently discovered that ownership and usage of connected devices is growing among U.S. broadband households.

Approximately 26 percent of U.S. broadband households now own a streaming media device and 16 percent now own a smart home device with 34 percent now owning a smart TV. This same report out earlier this month also noted that the average household spends more than $6 per month on subscription Internet video services.

“As we saw at CES … companies from previously separate channels are now competing in the smart home ecosystem, meaning both differentiation and cross-platform interoperability are critical to success,” said Tom Kerber, director of Research, Home Controls and Energy at Parks Associates. “Thirty-seven percent of U.S. broadband households intend to buy one or more smart devices in 2015, so this year will feature expansion of the smart home and further refinement of business strategies in these markets.”

“Different use cases will resonate with different consumer segments, and as penetration increases, consumer needs will change,” added Parks Associates President Stuart Sikes, in a prepared statement.

Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) estimates that there will be nearly 50 billion connected “things” by 2020, and some have pushed estimates even higher. Even if a fraction of these connected things come online, it is pretty clear there will be substantially more Internet-enabled devices in our near future.

“The IoT not only will introduce new endpoints, but it also will introduce entirely new types of endpoints,” Adaptiva CTO and Founder Deepak Kumar explained to InformationWeek. “Familiar IT challenges such as security, compliance, application integration, training, support, and budget restrictions will be magnified as if they were bulked up on steroids.”

The proliferation of tablets, mobile phones, and other smart devices as well as machine-to-machine (M2M) connections are driving up the demand for connectivity. By next year, industry experts forecast there will be nearly 18.9 billion network connections – almost 2.5 connections for each person on earth – compared with 10.3 billion in 2011.

As billions of “things” join the IoT revolution in the years ahead, the high-speed pipes connecting these gizmos inevitably will become pretty crowded, leaving current Internet capacity meager to the influx. Networks as we currently know them likely will need to be transformed to support the hyper-connectivity requirements of IoT.