Converge ICT Solutions, the largest high-speed fixed broadband operator in Luzon, is on track to complete its national fiber backbone in the first half and launch services in the south in the second half, a top executive said over the weekend.
“We hope to commercially launch our services in the Visayas and Mindanao regions by the second half of the year so that we can reach more provinces in need of world-class fixed broadband services,” Converge ICT Solutions founder and chief executive Dennis Anthony Uy said in an email interview.
Uy, an immigrant from Fujian province, China who grew up in Angeles City, said Converge ICT which had more than 2,000 employees, doubled its subscriber base in 2020 to 1.04 million as of end-2020, as demand for connectivity grew amid the pandemic which forced many Filipinos to work from home.
“We are currently adding 70,000 subscribers per month, and this continues to accelerate allowing us, to achieve record additions every month,” Uy said.
“During the pandemic, we saw the surge in demand. This pushed us to scale up really fast. With the proper fundamentals in place, we were able to keep up with the need. We continue to strengthen our network and our customer experience capabilities. The next step for us is to push ahead with our Go National strategy, which is well on the way with our subsea fiber optic cables now being laid to reach the Visayas and Mindanao,” he said.
Uy said the company planned to spend the P7.8 billion in net proceeds from the initial public offering last year to build its proprietary end-to-end fiber network between 2021 and 2022. He said being a public company now means a greater need to transform the organization to be world-class.
“For this year, we have allocated P20 billion for capital expenditures. Around 20 to 30 percent will be used to support the backbone infrastructure needed for the Visayas and Mindanao. The rest will fund the increase in fiber-to-the-home ports to deepen our network and other expenses such as further digitalization to support our customer experience team,” he said.
Uy said the goal is to further expand the company’s fiber infrastructure network beyond Luzon and link the region to Visayas and Mindanao. The rollout strategy is executed by construction management company MetroWorks ICT Construction Inc.
“As we continue to expand and to keep up with the increasing number of subscribers, we ensure to upgrade all of our services. This includes current efforts to have additional in-house repair teams, increased installation capacity and call center capacity and more service channels such as the mobile app, Converge Xperience,” he said.
We are well on track to meeting our goal of reaching over 15 million or 55% of Philippine households by 2025 and ready to serve the high-speed broadband requirements of the majority of our people. As of December 2020, Converge recorded 6.1 million homes passed, accounting for 25% of total households in the country.
Uy confirmed that in 2020, the company faced a huge challenge as demand surged, overwhelming the system. This was complicated by the quarantine and isolation of customer support team amid the lockdown measures.
“These growing pains pushed us to create a more resilient and reliable business organization. We increased the number of call center agents, purchased a fleet to manage installations and hired a seasoned customer service head to ensure that the issues are addressed,” he said.
Uy said Coverge ICT tripled the number of its call center agents who are able to address 90 percent of all calls.
“Our main challenge now is to be able to transform the organization to keep up with the fast growth. We are putting the right infrastructure with the support team to address the needs of our customers,” he said.
Uy said that aside from fixed broadband network, he was also looking at related businesses. “I am also interested in various industries, particularly in infrastructure and in data center gateways which can complement what we are currently doing. I am also interested in real estate,” he said.