With what seemed like a flick of a switch, the whole world was turned upside down by Covid-19–and, a year into this pandemic, things remain bleak, especially for those whose financial outlook is still unclear because of the economic impact of this global crisis.
A ray of hope for some Filipinos, however, lies in the form of their internet connection. The importance of the telecommunications sector became clear once people started to turn the home into an all-around activity hub, where they work, they learn, they play–and even where they consult with their doctors whom they could no longer visit in outpatient clinics for fear of contracting the virus.
“Strong, positive connections are key. Think of the healthcare sector–the barangay health centers, public and private hospitals, private clinics–and the rest of the ecosystem that supports them, such as government agencies, public and private health insurance, and the entire supply chain of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies. As a telco provider, we need to think of how to constantly connect all the members of this ecosystem, especially to the patients,” says Benjamin Azada, Chief Strategy Officer of Converge.
Beyond the healthcare space, there are also those whose jobs were affected–or, worse, taken away–by the pandemic. For those who faced unemployment, like Milliscent Dalusong of Jaen, Nueva Ecija, a reliable network created a new breed of entrepreneur–one able to reach a wide range of customers from the safety of home.
“I used to work before as a medical representative, and when the pandemic hit, we really felt the impact on our sales,” recalls Dalusong, who had to quit her job last February and channel her sales talents elsewhere.
Coincidentally, around the same time she left her company, a new internet service provider —Converge— came to town, which Dalusong says opened the opportunity for her to become an online seller.
“The town was really so happy when we heard that Converge was setting up their infrastructure here. And when I heard about how fast the internet speeds would be, I think I made it a point to call every agent available,” she says. Today, Dalusong says her business is thriving, and she is able to sell anything, from houseware to toiletries to imported food.
“As we continue to grow our fiber broadband network, we’re excited to see the burgeoning community of online micro entrepreneurs like Milliscent to take advantage of fiber-fast connection for their e-business to thrive, even in the comfort of their own homes,” said Jesus C. Romero, Converge’s Chief Operations Officer. “But for SMEs who demand higher bandwidth for interactive live-selling or e-commerce, we have a dedicated offering called FlexiBiz” he adds.
Converge offers affordable internet solutions fit for every stage of one’s business: For micro entrepreneurs, it’s the “entry-level” Residential package (FiberX 1500 with a 35mbps download speed), which, for the likes of Dalusong, is enough to power an online selling business, plus remote education (for her 10-year-old son), and entertainment–at a price level that’s within reach.
For small and medium enterprises (SMEs), Converge has FlexiBiz, which is tailored to these businesses’ needs. Converge launched FlexiBiz to help SMEs embrace their digital transformation. For Flexibiz Daytime, the bandwidth is doubled during the working hours of 7 am to 6:59 pm. For Flexibiz Peak, the high-speed connection is experienced around the clock.
John Martin Velasco, a management student working part-time at Baguio-based coffee chain Kape Umali attests that fiber broadband is just what they need at the medium-sized business.
“When the pandemic struck, Mines View became very quiet and it was difficult to get customers since we normally relied on tourists. I was afraid we were going to close down, but thankfully the owners decided to go online. We were limited back then to mobile data and it was too weak for us to communicate with the head office and with customers. But Converge came to Mines View, we signed on immediately, and now we can talk to customers easily now, not to mention deliver their orders much quicker,” John says.
Converge has gradually been extending its fiber reach to major provinces in North Luzon, and is currently deepening its hold in key cities like Baguio. Complementing their internet products are Converge’s offline efforts to grow the country’s micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSME) ecosystem. Recently, Converge launched a series of webinars targeting SMEs nationwide. The company also collaborated with tech giant Google and set up the MSME Caravan: Digital Learning Week, a series of free webinars on digital tools for MSMEs. The initiative aims to provide small businesses with the knowledge, tools, and opportunities of going online so they can continue to manage business operations effectively, despite the pandemic.
And as the company aggressively expands (400+ cities and municipalities nationwide and counting), here’s what Converge subscribers can look forward to:
- A hyperconnected country. With their services now available in Luzon and Visayas, Converge’s Mindanao launch is expected to happen before the year ends.
- A “deeper” reach in Luzon, especially across the most far-flung barangays (purok)
- Enhanced customer experience, through an improved answer call rate of 96 percent, and fast installation periods (86 percent within seven days and 64 percent within a day of application)
- An upgraded network: double the data transmission capacity, from 400Gbps to 800Gbps
“In the transition from worker to entrepreneur, Converge is there to handhold Filipinos who are facing a new world,” says Dennis Anthony Uy, Converge CEO and Co-Founder. “Converge marries affordability with strong, quality connection—and we’re glad budding entrepreneurs have taken advantage of it as they embark on their ventures.”