Philippine-based broadband provider’s first orders of business
More than providing internet service, Converge ICT also aims to venture into video production.
The Philippines’ internet speed, although improving, still lags behind its neighbouring markets. In a July 2022 survey by Ookla, a broadband network intelligence company, the country placed 14th for fixed broadband median amongst 50 Asian markets and 45th out of 182 countries. To enhance the Philippines’ internet market, one of the local fixed broadband service providers aimed to advance digitalisation in the country for faster internet access.
Jesus Romero, chief operating officer of Converge ICT Solutions, said they seek to make government and businesses compete on a global scale. This led Converge to launch its Yan Ang Internet Programme, which means the “Kind of internet that people deserve.” This increased the cost of its internet plan, FiberXPlans, by merely P100 (around US$2), but the effect on its consumers is a doubled internet bandwidth.
“We were not selective. We informed all our customers [of this new programme], knowing that some of them may even potentially downgrade. To us, it's okay, because the whole message is about providing the best value,” he further explained.
This was rolled out at the year-end of 2021 as it marked more than a million subscribers.
“On a short-term basis, we also offered some customers a discount on the first bill, meaning, if you avail of the plan, we will waive your first month's bill,” Romero said.
Its entry-level plan was also upgraded by about 50% internet speed from 35 megabits (Mbps) to 50 Mbps, which means customers can do multiple online tasks.
“It allows them to do multiple things at the same time doing zoom meetings for business, school, online schooling for children, and streaming video services for entertainment,” said Romero.
Its most affordable and speedy internet plan is the higher-end plan, which is around 800 Mbps per second.
“The higher end plan, we not only reduced the rate, but we almost tripled the speed. For about US$70, that's 800 Mbps per second. That is the fastest and most affordable high-speed package in the country today,” said Romero.
Converge, which runs a pure end-to-end fibre internet network, won the Marketing and Brand Initiative of the Year Award for the Philippines in the Asian Telecom Awards 2022.
It seeks to deploy “world-class” internet service to underserved Filipino customers as 68% of the Philippine population are using the internet, according to a 2022 report of marketing research firms, Hootsuite and We Are Social. The report also found that Filipinos spend an average of 10 hours and 27 minutes on the internet on any device.
Experience centres for customers
To connect more with customers, Romero said they revamped their digital platforms for billing and support systems, with the first installations being the GoFiber website and mobile app.
“[It makes it] easier for our customers to interact with us – whether it's to find out how much I need to pay, what's the status of my line,” said Romero.
“When you open the app, you can see the situation with your line: the signal level is good, the modem temperature okay, or too many users connected to it. We're the first one with that, and we improved it,” he added.
Aside from advancing digital plans on the internet, Converge improved its services with physical stores as some Filipinos still prefer face-to-face interactions to address their concerns.
“They want to go to a business centre, they want to interact person to person and pay and apply. We're also expanding our physical presence,” said the Converge COO.
“We're launching the next generation of business centres. They are not going to be your traditional brick-and-mortar. We're calling them experience centres,” Romero also said.
Beyond internet services
They are also seeking to offer services beyond reliable and speedy internet by providing television programming and other video content services through an internet protocol suite, which is more modern than cable or broadcast television.
“Now that we have about 1.7 million total broadband customers, that's a lot of eyeballs so we are also thinking about what are the other important services that they need,” Romero told Asian Business Review.
In 2020, the broadband service launched, Converge Freedom, which is a new way to stream content for only P299 or more than $5 per month.
It allowed customers to watch entertainment shows such as sports, news, films, and other entertainment shows.
“You will no longer be limited to watching your favourite programs on your TV. With Converge Freedom, you can watch anytime, anywhere in your home with its on-demand functionalities,” said Romero.