Firm vows to slug it out in telco space
The Pampanga-based founder of Converge ICT Solutions Inc., a fixed broadband service provider that is rolling out nationwide, announced his intention to join the government’s third telco selection process with South Korea’s KT Corp.
Dennis Anthony H. Uy, CEO and president of Converge ICT, told the Inquirer that he was ready to compete with incumbent players PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom in the mobile space, where he promised to offer cheaper rates and better-quality services with a primary focus on the data market—a rapidly growing segment.
Uy, who took his time to reveal his plans to join the third telco race to scope out potential rivals, said there was room for a credible third player with the right technology and mind-set to compete in the telecommunications sector, which is known for its high entry barriers and massive capital investments.
“This third telco initiative is the fight for unhappy customers,” Uy said in the interview, adding that the initiative launched by the Duterte administration was only possible through political will.
“This is the only chance we have, under this President,” he said.
Uy said he would join the race through Telecommunications Technology Solutions Inc., a company with a telco franchise that he also owns. Telecommunications Technology will team up with KT, South Korea’s largest telco, and another local partner, Uy said.
“This company will focus on mobile, and maybe if we’re successful down the road, maybe they can merge together with Converge. In due time, anything can happen,” he said.
Uy said this would give Converge ICT greater focus on the fixed-broadband segment, where it already competes with PLDT and Globe. The company has big goals for its pure fiber internet business, which spans around 26,000 kilometers. In August, Converge ICT partnered with KT, Fibernet Konstrukt and TE Connectivity Subcom to lay down fiber lines and submarine cables across the Philippines within five years.
He said the fiber segment accounted for less than 5 percent of all Filipino households. By 2019, Uy said he planned to more than double its one million household customers today.
The company is on track to hit P5 billion in revenue this year and the goal to double this to about P10 billion in 2019. He said the company was paying around P270 million in income tax this year, suggesting a pre-tax profit of around P800 million. Eventually, Converge ICT is targeting 13 million of the country’s 22 million households.
Uy regarded Converge ICT’s fixed broadband network as an advantage in the third telco race. He added that it was also important to address this segment while scoring competition with spotty services.
“I call them Christmas lights broadband. On and off,” Uy said. “It’s the reality.”
“Broadband is a necessity to individuals. Especially students. Once you are not connected to the digital life, you are totally left behind,” he added.
He said the government still had a part to play in the third telco initiative apart from choosing a new major player. Reforms included giving the National Telecommunications Commission added teeth, number portability, national roaming and open links to internet exchange points.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is targeting to choose a third telco player by Nov. 7 this year.
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