By Ike Suarez
As Filipino netizens increasingly fume over the country?s excruciatingly slow Internet connectivity speeds, one provider has quietly been offering an alternative faster than others in the industry.
The company, Converge ICT Solutions, has been doing this since mid-2011 by way of pure fiber-optic connectivity. Over the years, it has gained a growing list of subscribers in the corporate world, as well as SMEs and home consumers.
Although it also covers Metro Manila, its major concentration is Central Luzon and parts of Western Luzon. It is also present in Subic Freeport and Clark Freeport.
Dexter Tan, chief innovation officer of Converge ICT Solutions, said in an interview at their Pasig City head office that his company is a telecommunications company duly franchised by Congress. As such, it offers most services also offered by telecommunications companies except mobile telecommunication services.
?[But] we are still an SME when compared to the other players,? said Tan, a 43-year old executive who has had stints in various tech companies such as Cisco Systems Philippines.
What makes it different is that the company offers only pure fiber-optic connectivity, Tan said. This way, it can guarantee faster speeds and same upload and download speeds.
Little fanfare has accompanied its marketing efforts since mid-2011. It has not commissioned any advertising agency since that time to come out with even one single advertising campaign on print or broadcast media.
Rather, it has relied on ?word of mouth? from satisfied customers and a small cadre of sales representatives. But over the past four years, Converge ICT Solutions has quietly and steadily gained a list of subscribers.
?Quite often, a subscriber refers our company to others,? he said. Such referrals have enabled it to garner even more subscribers.
He explained that the reason for referrals is rooted in fast and reliable connection. ?We are changing the game through end-to-end fiber-optics,? Tan said.
The high-speed connectivity extends from the company?s core backbone to Converge ICT Solutions? data centers to all customers.
He said that copper wires are vulnerable to grounding when it rains. On the other hand, microwave transmitters used by wireless Internet providers have their signals blocked or considerably slowed down by clouds and falling rain each time there is inclement weather.
He pointed out that by contrast, fiber-optic cables enable Internet connectivity speeds as fast as up to the speed of light. As a result, their company is able to offer all customers symmetric bandwidth speeds.
?So, if we offer customers 4 MB bursts, their uploads and downloads will have the same speeds,? according to him. He added that as a result, Convergence ICT Solutions can offer even home subscribers connectivity packages of up to 50 Mbps.
Although unheralded, the company has quietly laid down fiber-optic lines in the past four years in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and parts of Western Luzon.
It has done this through its microtrenching machine — an automated device that it quickly cuts microtrenches in roads where fiber-optic cables are to be laid. The machine then automatically lays down the cables and covers up the diggings upon completion. ?It can lay down 1.2 kilometers of lines daily,? according to Tan.
Tan said the company has now laid a total of close to 5,000 kilometers of fiber-optic lines in Metro Manila and parts of Luzon. He claimed that Converge ICT Solutions now has fiber-optic lines in almost all of the National Capital Region.
These lines have enabled their company to have a presence in the central business districts of Pasig, Makati, San Juan and Mandaluyong. It also has a presence in much of Pampanga, major towns and cities of Bulacan, major towns and cities of Tarlac and as earlier mentioned, Clark Freeport Zone and the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.
In these areas, the company offers fiber Internet, co-location, and cloud services to corporate customers. At the same time, it offers Internet connectivity packages to SMEs and home subscribers. He said a good number of BPOs and call centers has Converge ICT Solutions as their backup provider.
The Philippine Stock Exchange has also shown enough trust and confidence in its technology to have it as its connectivity provider. Likewise, it is the Internet service provider for the Manila city government?s free WiFi services.
Tan said Converge ICT Solutions is still a privately held company, its CEO being Dennis Uy. It is the offshoot of ComClark, a cable TV service provider in Pampanga.
Tan pointed out that there are 20 million households in the Philippines and only two million of them are connected to the Internet. He cited this fact to illustrate that the market is big enough to accommodate smaller providers like their company even if the dominant players are the big telcos.
?There is opportunity for everyone,? he stated.