Converge begins laying out Luzon fiber-optic cable network

ANGELES CITY–Converge ICT Solutions Inc. (Converge) began laying out its Luzon fiber-optic cable network on Monday.

Converge President and CEO Dennis Anthony Uy said on Tuesday a total of 1,100 kilometers of fiber-optic cable from Clark to Northern and Southern Luzon will be finished before the end of the year.

Uy said the company hired Haidee Construction Inc. of Spencer Concepcion as contractor. An initial 600 workers, divided into four teams, are now doing the groundwork, he added.

Uy said another four teams of 600 workers are expected to augment the work force for a total of 1,200 workers.

He said a team of workers is in the vicinity of the MacArthur Highway from the Circumferential Road at the Paning’s junction who are tasked to install the fiber-optic cables all the way to Manila. Another team is doing the same operation from Mabalacat to Baguio City and La Union.

Uy said Converge launched a supplemental feeding program for the workers for the entire duration of the project.

The workers use a French-made Marais concrete cutter to lay the fiber-optic cable to a standard 1.2-meter underground, where a blue 2-inch micro duct, which has seven subducts, and another 2-inch HDPE duct is laid down, according to Uy.

The Marais concrete cutter slices about 4 inches of the road which is immediately filled in after the fiber-optic cable is in place.

Uy said for every 200 meters to 300 meters, depending on the location, there is a hand-hole for the service stop, which could be attached to the post and into homes or businesses.

He said hand-holes are already in place every 200 meters in the bustling Balibago commercial district.

In other areas in the countryside, where there is not much activity, the service areas can be placed at every 2 km or 3 km, he said.

Converge carries a Congressional franchise (Republic Act 9707) to construct, install, establish, operate and maintain telecommunications systems throughout the Philippines.

Converge is also currently laying a subsea cable from Hong Kong to La Union then on to Guam for its international gateway facility (IGF) that will connect to the Luzon grid.

At present only Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. and Globe telecoms have IGF in place, he said.

During the recent Pacific Telecom Conference in Hawaii in January, Uy said the topic was “Digital Disruption,” because the revenues of telecommunications industry worldwide went down 8 percent to 9 percent annually for the past two years.

This is because of the advent of social media, Uy said.

“Everybody now calls abroad using Internet protocol applications for free instead of calling through the cellular networks, which have regular charges.”

On the other hand, Uy said bandwith use went up three times.

“The growth of the usage is too fast that is why [telcos] have a big problem coping with the upgrade and demand,” he said.

Even with about 7,000 cell sites around the country, it is not enough because wireless have capacities and, therefore, have limitations, Uy said.

“They are simply congested that is why we have slow Internet that is why we need to ‘fiberize’ all these.”

Fiber-optic technology is better, because even with the sudden increase in demand or whatever capacity you want, the only thing you need to change is the equipment, Uy explained.

“The way we see it now, technology is going fiber-to-home.”

According to Uy, sans citing sources, the Asia-Pacific region has 100 million homes already connected to fiber-optic cables as of January.

The biggest is Korea, where 99 percent of the houses are connected to fiber, while the third is in Japan where about 70 percent to 80 percent of homes are connected to fiber, Uy added.

“Here in the Philippines, only about 1 percent of homes are connected to fiber.”

Telcos now have a problem in migrating to the new fiber technology because they are legacy-based systems, according to Uy.

“It will take a while before they fully migrate.”

Unlike Converge, we are a new player, so we lay out our backbone with the new technology, he added.

With its backbone in place, Uy said Converge’s Internet performance can give speed that up to 100 megabytes per second.

Ashley Manabat

 

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Ashley Manabat is a correspondent of BusinessMirror. He is also the Vice Chair of Capampangan in Media Inc., Chair NUJP Pampanga chapter and the Treasurer Pampanga Press Club.

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