Converge pursues an inclusive, digital future for all
Digitalization is often described as a race as it moves at lightning speed – evolution of technology in the digital era is rapid and what is relevant today may become outdated tomorrow. In this race, there will be winners and losers – it means someone is bound to get left behind. In many ways, the pandemic has forced many economies to switch to a higher gear and pick up the pace. The Philippines is one of those economies but the question remains: are we all moving towards the finish line or are we leaving some in the dust? Converge ICT Solutions, the Philippines’ fastest growing broadband and technology solutions company, is taking up the challenge and is determined to leave no one, especially not the vulnerable, behind.
The battle cry of Converge for 2023 sums up this mission: in the race towards a digital future, we’re leaving no one behind. The digital economy is a fast rising contributor to economic growth and to fall behind means to miss out on this growth. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), just this past April, estimated that the Philippine digital economy in 2022 amounted to P2.08 trillion, contributing 9.4 percent to the country’s domestic economy or Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This amount represents an increase of 11% from P1.87 trillion in 2021.
What about participation in this digital economy? The PSA added further that the estimated number of employed persons in the digital economy was 6.05 million in 2022. This count was 8.2% higher than the 5.59 million people employed in the digital economy in 2021.
The digital economy is expanding, thanks to the boost driven by the pandemic, but let’s take a closer look: are we riding this wave of growth? Studies say we’re not maximizing its full benefits.
According to the World Bank’s “Philippines Economic Update: Strengthening the Digital Economy to Boost Domestic Recovery” published in June 2022, challenges remain: “Digitalization faces a ceiling due to the low coverage of broadband service. The country’s fixed broadband, which is important for high-volume data transmission and typically required by large businesses and institutions, continues to lag that of regional comparators such as Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand.”
Investing in digital infrastructure
The culprit? Underinvestment in ICT infrastructure. For its part, Converge is bucking the trend: it has frontloaded its capital expenditure in 2020 – allocating a capex budget of Php 41 billion in 2020-2021 – for its nationwide infrastructure, and so as of March 2023, it boasts of having 7.5 million deployed fiber ports in the Philippines. This means a highly available and usable digital infrastructure nationwide.
Who are currently making use of this extensive and available fiber infrastructure? Mostly residential subscribers in the middle class segment. The flagship product of Converge is the FiberX Plan 1500 – majority of its nearly 2 million subscribers are users of the FiberX products but a new growth driver may add to this.
Expanding market reach with prepaid
To broaden access to the lower income segments, Converge is launching fiber products on a prepaid model. These products range from as low as P50 load for one day to P700 for a month’s use, with unlimited data. Thus, a standard-sized Filipino household can already enjoy fiber internet for their work from home, education, entertainment, and even Facebook online selling needs. Its reach into the marginalized classes is expected to contribute to higher participation in the digital economy and even help the expansion of it.
Fiber internet on prepaid values through its Surf2Sawa (S2S) product is an innovation Converge is keen to leverage on and already, it is being rolled out in key areas. The digital infrastructure of Converge is ready to take on more demand as it’s continuously being broadened and strengthened with cutting edge technology.
Converge CEO and Co-Founder Dennis Anthony Uy often states, “Digital access is no longer just a privilege for a few, but it’s a right of every individual.” The company’s expansion into the prepaid market is a step towards upholding the Filipinos’ right to digital access.
Powering small businesses
The same World Bank report noted another challenge, that Converge has a ready answer for. According to the June 2022 Update, “Digital adoption diverges significantly between small and large firms and across different sectors, especially on the use of advanced digital solutions, which has a high impact on firm productivity.”
Converge has been steadily growing its enterprise business in the past year through a slew of SME and Business-targeted products and services, and more solutions are in the offing. Converge has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with global technology companies such as South Korea’s leading telco, KT Corp, to enhance its business product portfolio and more solutions geared towards better digitalization of businesses will be launched.
“These potential partnerships will allow us to co-innovate and deliver advanced technologies suited for the needs of Philippine businesses, especially SMEs,” Converge President, Chief Risk Officer, and Chief Resource Officer Maria Grace Uy said.
Converge is confident in its campaign to reach out to vulnerable groups, such as the low income classes and SMEs because it knows its track record for quality broadband connection speaks for itself; not to mention it now has the broadest fiber broadband network in the Philippines today.
“More than the quality broadband connection, Converge is all about finding technology solutions to the needs of our business customers. We aim to expand our portfolio of value-added products for the benefit of our business clients and help them succeed in their respective industries,” added Converge Chief Operations Officer Jesus C. Romero.
In the end, while the race of digitalization continues, countries like the Philippines should be focused on steady improvements such as in mobile and broadband coverage. While it may take a while for the country to overtake competitors, private sector players like Converge are leveling the playing field and making sure everyone gets a chance to get moving and take part in the race.