CONVERGE CEO DENNIS UYO
Stronger networks, faster and smoother digital connectivity, and more responsive customer service—this is what Converge CEO Dennis Uy promises.
BY MAIELLE MONTAYRE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JAR CONCENGCO
The telecommunications industry in the Philippines is constantly faced with the many demands of the modern age. Previously dubbed as the “texting capital of the world,” the Philippines saw mobile phone subscriptions skyrocket while installed telephone lines were drastically reduced.
Now, with digital use on the rise, statistics show that Filipinos rank higher than their Asian counterparts in terms of time spent online. With many staying home for work and schooling due to health and safety concerns, the demand for high-speed internet access is at the forefront today.
This is the market which Dennis Anthony Uy’s Converge seeks to dominate as a leader in pure end-to-end fiber internet service. A SINGLE FOCUS Converge ICT Solutions, Inc., commonly referred to as Converge, was founded in 2007 by Dennis Anthony H. Uy, and his wife, Maria Grace Y. Uy. Converge is affiliated with ComClark Network and Technology Corporation, which Uy also founded in Pampanga in 1996. Aside from being the founders of Converge, Uy also holds the position of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Executive Director of Converge, while his wife serves as President of Converge.
This power couple—an engineer and a CPA—work to balance each other out in the operations of their technology company. “I’m an engineer so I like things done swiftly, but I lack the controls. She, on the other hand, as a CPA, is very systematic with everything. So, we balance out each other,” says the self-confessed tech guy with a degree in Electrical Engineering. “It’s a perfect combination. I provide the vision and she operationalizes it with the proper process and control systems.
I handle all the tech, while she does all the finance. So, we each have our own specializations,” Uy adds. In 2009, Converge was granted a congressional franchise to operate as a telecommunications company. In 2012, Converge focused on broadband operations, providing high-speed broadband to Filipino households and businesses. In 2019, Converge successfully secured a $225 million investment from Warburg Pincus, a private equity firm, in order to fund its full-fiber optics network.
Fiber-optic internet is the faster, more reliable, and more advanced solution to data transfer than the antiquated copper-based Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) and cable internet. Since then, Converge has grown to make a name for itself as the fastest end-to-end fiber internet provider in the Philippines. “That is my competitive edge in this business. I have a single-minded focus,” Uy says. “I only have one product— fiber broadband. While other competitors have wireless mobile, landline, wireless fixed and prepaid, in my case, it is single-focus so I am able to bring the new technology to the consumer right away.” Converge offers its premium fiber internet to residences, businesses, and other enterprises.
Whatever the name— FiberX for the home, iBiz for the office, and other digital services—the fact remains that Converge provides affordable and fast connection with unlimited bandwidth and quick installation. “The good thing about the fixed line is the single-port design infrastructure.
This allows a single house to have fast, reliable, and sufficient connectivity for several users. Unlike wireless connections that can get congested and slowed down because of the shared signal,” Uy adds. At the end of 2020, Converge has more than doubled its fiber network to over 55,000 kilometers from the previous year, making high-speed broadband internet available to more areas in the country.
With the growing demand for internet services, their residential subscriber base doubled during the year, reaching approximately 1,038,000 subscribers by December 2020. Using the greenfield approach, Uy aims to tap the unserved and underserved areas of the country. “A lot of the areas that we have gone to have never been connected with fiber. Never. At all,” he says. “As of today, 90% of our new subscribers are first-time users. So, you can see the blue ocean market that we are penetrating,” he adds. QUINTUPLE GROWTH As a result of the 2020 worldwide global pandemic, Converge more than quintupled its installations. For this reason, Converge reached over a million subscribers by the end of the year.
However this surge in demand was not without its challenges. “Usually, we had around 20,000 to 30,000 [installations] monthly. But because of the pandemic, we were doing approximately 100,000 installations a month. Biglang nag-times five. We had to activate the manpower, logistics, and call centers to address the sudden surge in demand. This was even more difficult because of the lockdown and everyone was working off-site.
But the growth was there, so we trained our staff, ordered a fleet of vehicles, and activated more call centers as fast as we could. We had our challenges, but we were able to address the concerns as quickly as we could,” Uy explains. Aside from addressing the sudden 500% growth in operations, Converge likewise had to comply with government and health regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since Converge is in the broadband business, the company got the exemption from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), the government body deciding on COVID-19 protocols, to continue operations.
Uy then worked doubly hard to get approval to open the business centers in order to address the surging demand. Converge implemented social distancing and an appointment-based system in the business centers.
The applications, billing, and the services were in full-swing. “In the business centers, people could not just walk in. So, we implemented an appointment-based system to be able to maintain the health protocols and still attend to our customers,” Uy shared. The call center was integral for the business to run smoothly. So Converge converted offices into a stay-in set up.
Agents were given dormitories and meals for the whole day while they were required to live in the premises for an extended period. Converge also opened multiple sites to address the social distancing requirements as well as the demand.
The next issue was public transport. Converge then purchased buses in order to provide safe transportation for the employees. A set-up of pick-up points and schedules were put in place. “(For our workers), we had to provide safe transportation for them. In the office, they had to observe social distancing. From the previous 100% office capacity, we could only do 30%,” Uy recounts. “So, we immediately put measures in place to improve our operations.
There were so many things, and since March, we did all those things, and we were able to overcome our challenges.” In response to the needs of their customers, Converge also improved the backend of their operations. “Because the scale of service is expanding, our backend had to keep up, especially our OSS (Operations Support System) and BSS (Business Support System).”