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From free zone to war zone: Dennis Anthony Uy’s Converge will have to slug it out in crowded market – Globe’s Ernest Cu

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.

Bilyonaryo Dennis Anthony Uy’s rule as the king of Philippine fiber broadband is under threat with the telecom giants, PLDT and Globe Telecom, ramping up their assault on a market they once considered as secondary to mobile.

READ: Will Dennis Uy ignite price war like Gokongwei? Ernest Cu says Globe ready for ‘aggression’ from DITO: We’ll see how they play the game

Globe president and CEO Ernest Cu believed the road ahead for Converge would not be as easy considering that the top two telcos have trained their guns on fiber.

READ: Ernest Cu: Converge now a serious contender in the broadband space

“Competition will come in the fixed line space, with Converge having very significant builds alongside PLDT and Globe. What was once a free area for Converge to play has become a crowded area with focus shifting from wireless to the fixed side,” said Cu in a media briefing.

READ: Converge’s internet backbone gets major improvement

Globe has budgeted P70 billion for capital expenditures in 2021 on top of the P50 billion it spent in 2020. Though Globe did not give details, the bulk of the spending is likely to be spent for fiber which is Cu’s new obsession.

PLDT is pouring another P92 billion in 2021 after spending a then record P70 billion capex in 2020. Just like Globe, PLDT president and CEO Al Panlilio said the firm’s main focus was “expanding its fiber footprint.”

Converge expanded its fiber network by 107 percent to 55, 000 kilometers in 2020 from from 26,600 kilometers in 2019.

Its residential customers have also doubled to over one million with 2.7 million fiber-to-the-home ports available for customers nationwide.

But there is still a lot of room for expansion in the market as the country’s high-speed broadband market remained low at six percent versus the 27 percent average in the region.

Cu admitted that Globe has been left behind in the race to install a fiber-to-the-home network because “we prioritized the mobile side like our competitor.”

“Mobile data was the fastest and easiest way to reach people in rural areas. Fiber is more challenging given the country’s topography and geography, the mountains and rivers and seas that we have to cross, and the different jurisdictions to contend with. Thanks to ARTA (Anti-Red Tape Authority) and Bayanihan Act for streamlining these requirements,” said Cu.

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