By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

INTERNET provider Eastern Communications is targeting to reach nationwide coverage next year, as it starts the rollout of its network in the southern part of the country by the fourth quarter.

Aileen D. Regio, co-coordinator of Eastern’s executive office, said yesterday the company wants to expand its presence outside Metro Manila and neighboring regions.

“We will start expansion at the latter part of the year, so that next year, services will be available as far as Davao,” she told reporters at a media briefing in Pasay City.

The company is specifically targeting “next-wave cities”—information and communications technology (ICT) investment destinations — namely Davao City, Cagayan De Oro, Iloilo, Bacolod and Dumaguete.

“We can start the rollout by October or November, then we should be able to sell early part of next year,” Ms. Regio added, noting the company has already deployed teams that are surveying and doing initial work in the identified locations.

Ramon Nonato C. Aesquivel, Jr., Eastern co-coordinator, said the company may breach its P850-million allocation for capital spending this year due to its increased investments on network expansion.

“We should be able to reach close to P1 billion because of the aggressiveness of the expansion that we’re undertaking,” he said.

Eastern currently has around 10,000 subscribers for its internet connectivity services from across enterprise and consumer customers. It is present in the National Capital Region, Regions 3 and 4, and Cebu.

Aside from improving its broadband network, Eastern is also looking to grow its ICT solutions business by adding new products and services targeted at enterprise customers.

The company launched yesterday cloud services and cyber defense products in partnership with Swiss firm CloudSigma Holding AG and Canada-based DOSarrest Internet Security Ltd.

Ms. Regio said the new products are in line with the company’s goal of expanding its ICT solutions business to account for 40% of Eastern’s revenues by next year.

“We’re forecasting a considerable amount of our business plan for 2020 hinged on some of these new products and services… We’re targeting around 40% of new business to come from all the ICT solutions services,” she said.

Mr. Aesquivel noted the ICT solutions business currently contributes less than 10% to Eastern’s total business, and the decision to improve it is driven by the digital transformation that companies are continuously undertaking.

“We’re focusing now on managed services because that is the trend going forward. We see the demand growing exponentially, that’s why we’re investing in this infrastructure so that we can help our customers better,” he said.

Eastern posted a net income of P906 million last year, higher by 34% from a year ago, driven by its network expansion and increasing number of small- and medium-sized enterprise customers.