By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter

FIBER internet provider Converge ICT Solutions, Inc. is stepping up its nationwide expansion as it aims to connect “millions of unserved and underserved” households and businesses by 2021, its top official said.

“We plan to continue to execute a dual-pronged network expansion strategy: first, under our ‘Go-National’ strategy, we plan to expand our domestic backbone nationwide to connect regions we have not covered to date; second, under our ‘Go-Deep’ strategy, we plan to further deepen our distribution and last mile networks within existing and new coverage areas,” Dennis Anthony H. Uy, founder and chief executive officer of Converge, told BusinessWorld in an e-mail interview on Tuesday.

Converge currently operates an end-to-end high-speed fiber network in the country with more than 30,000 kilometers in length. The company is working to expand its domestic backbone from Luzon to the Visayas and Mindanao islands.

“We expect to provide nationwide backbone infrastructure coverage by 2021. In parallel, we are continuing to build out the capillaries of our distribution and last-mile networks throughout Luzon, as well as expanding beyond Luzon to Visayas and Mindanao,” Pampanga-based businessman Mr. Uy added.

In an effort to help improve the internet traffic across the country, Converge recently doubled its bandwidth to PhOpenIX, a carrier-neutral internet exchange platform.

The company saw an acceleration of new subscribers in the first half of the year, mainly because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“In May 2020, we acquired approximately 50,000 new residential subscribers (gross), the highest monthly gross adds on record, compared to monthly new residential subscriptions (gross) of approximately 33,000 in each of January and February 2020. In June 2020, we added approximately 60,000 new residential subscribers, exceeding the May 2020 record by 20%,” Mr. Uy said.

The company has also commissioned an innovative and flexible high-capacity backbone. “The new 400G metro backbone utilizes industry-leading optical solutions from a United States-based networking systems, services and software company,” he said.

“The 400G optical solution will enable us to be flexible and efficiently improve the capacity of our nationwide backbone to deliver a more seamless user experience for our existing and potential customers,” he added.

Mr. Uy said Converge slightly slowed its network rollouts during the strict community quarantine period.

By May 2020, rollouts had returned to, and in some areas exceeded, the pre-pandemic rollout pace, he added.

The company was able to add 438,648 new ports in the first half, compared with 295,074 new ports rolled out during the same period last year.

Converge recently submitted an application to the Securities and Exchange Commission to do a P35.92-billion initial public offering.

The target retail offer period is from Oct. 13 to 19 and listing on Oct. 26. About 90% of the proceeds from the offering will be used for capital expenditures, while the remainder would go to general corporate purposes.