Iowa-based cable company ImOn is pursuing a gigabit broadband strategy, with a hybrid network that includes traditional HFC-delivered DOCSIS and a FTTP PON network.

The triple play provider with both a strong business services and residential focus, will use a Calix GPON platform to extend gigabit capable broadband services for expansion into additional markets. ImOn will continue to operate its HFC network, which utilizes DOCSIS technology as well. ImOn primarily serves the Iowa markets of Cedar Rapids, Marion and Hiawatha.

“As a local Internet, cable TV, and phone operator serving Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and expanding into surrounding, underserved communities, our mission at ImOn has always centered on providing our customers a superior user experience, delivered through a reliable, state-of-the-art network,” said Patrice Carroll, CEO of ImOn Communications in a press release. “As we partner with Calix, leveraging an FTTH infrastructure will lay the foundation for the software-defined, virtualized network of the future.”

The ImOn move illustrates a growing chorus of cable operators, large and small, who are emphasizing PON FTTP technology rather than traditional HFC DOCSIS platforms. Perhaps the largest example of this gigabit broadband strategy is Altice USA, who is embarking on a major technology migration away from DOCSIS to FTTP. Many smaller operators are pursuing the strategy as well, including MCTV of Ohio.

Some cable companies have done the analysis of FTTP vs DOCSIS and believe it will save them money in the long run, and allow them to tap into the virtualization benefits occurring with broadband access technologies like PON.

“The cable industry is actively transitioning to software-defined, virtualized, and agile networks, which are crucial to rapidly delivering new services and maintaining their competitive edge,” said Michael Weening, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Calix in the press release.

Broadband access vendors including Calix, ADTRAN, and Nokia are actively pursuing the cable industry with ‘fiber deep’ solutions, encouraging cable MSOs to drive fiber deeper into their access networks, including all the way to the home, although FTTP architecture isn’t necessarily required. These vendors all offer some variation of virtualized access technologies, which allows cable operators to improve their broadband performance in a gigabit age at potentially lower cost than with traditional cable HFC architectures.