Why Converge ICT is the best ISP in the Philippines
The struggle of finding a good internet service provider in the Philippines proves to be a real challenge. It has been reported that the Philippines has the slowest and most expensive internet in the region. Not only that, but for Filipino gamers need to bear with poor peering to our ASEAN neighbors and ironically, to other local ISPs as well.
Over the years, I’ve subscribed with the big two ISPs in the country, PLDT DSL and more recently, Globe Telecom’s DSL. I was pretty irked most especially with Globe’s “Fair Use Policy” (FUP). It’s where they purposely slow down your connection once you hit a data cap of 10GB in a day. So from a speed of 5mbps, it goes down to 1.5mbps after I hit the data cap. What’s their rationale for the FUP? Well let me quote from their site
“The Tattoo Home Broadband product was designed to provide you a steady browsing experience in the convenience of your home! With it, you can enjoy consistently fast and reliable broadband service. It even lets you stream data and download large files. But if you use this service other than its intent as mentioned, you might experience slow browsing.” (Source: http://tattoo.globe.com.ph/fup)
Riiighhhht… It’s a skill for someone to make bullshit smell like roses.
So that means: downloading games off from Steam (which now averages at around 15GB per game), streaming videos from Youtube and Netflix in HD (there is a way, more on that next time!) adds to your FUP quota, thus limiting what you can really do with your broadband connection. Unfair as it is, as a consumer, I really didn’t have any choice since there weren’t any viable alternatives out in the market... Until I happened to stumble upon another ISP called Converge ICT.
Converge ICT is a new player in the whole ISP-verse in the Philippines, and what compelled me to check them out was that they provide Fiber to the home plans (FTTH), which means they run a fiber optic cable from their outdoor box into your home. Technically receive a better quality of connection as compared to DSL which runs on old copper lines.
To be honest, when I was trying to research on Converge ICT, there was not much reviews or customer testimonials to be found. Their Facebook page definitely did not help since a lot of complaints were being posted on their walls. Luckily, I was able to find a couple friends of friends who also live in the same area as I do and reported good things about Converge ICT. Plus their pricing was really good as well as compared to the major telcos for their Fiber plans. so I decided to pull the trigger to the 10mbps plan which was at P3,500 a month.
“Protip: if you find the the installation fee to be really expensive, you can bargain with them and say you want to prepay the monthly fees for a year, in exchange that they waive the fee. They will usually agree and everybody wins! You can find out about more their offered plans here”
After sending them an email through their website inquiring on the availability in my area, I was pleased that their reply was quick. Converge ICT confirmed that they can hook up my house with Fiber and boy was I excited! I decided to go through with the application process, which was pretty painless. After emailing them back the application and some IDs (2 valid government IDs), they were able to schedule with me on when they can come over to hook up my house with Fiber. The process of physically laying out fiber optic cables from their outdoor hub to my home took about a day. They came back the next day to activate the line and made sure everything was working which approximately took an hour or so.
“Protip: Unfortunately, their section in their website that lists area of availability is outdated. Just give them a call or email and inquire if your house is covered. They usually are able to check if your area is covered within a few days.”
Speed & Latency of Converge ICT vs other ISPs
After seeing the technicians out, I hurriedly went back upstairs to check on my connection. I was both anxious and excited to check out the speed as well as the latency to Singapore, since most of the servers we play with the OMGeeks are located there. As expected, the download speeds were holding up pretty well, hitting at about 9.4mbps on average. What got me by surprise were the upload speeds which were pretty much the same as my download speeds.
Oh what a relief this will be when I have to upload videos on Youtube! Pings to the OMGeek Teamspeak server, which is located in SG, was holding at around 60-65ms! Just to compare, I previously got 180-200ms with Globe.
Lastly, I wanted to also check pings to the big two ISPs, Globe and PLDT and lo and behold, I was pleasantly surprised again that both ISPs pinged >10ms! As I wrote before, peering between the big two have been really really bad because PLDT won’t play ball for domestic peering. For some reason, Converge ICT was able to find a middle ground for both ISPs. Have I really found the perfect ISP here in the Philippines?
Reliability & After sales
After a month passed, Converge ICT was proved to be really rock solid. Even during a period where there was heavy rains, the connection was still stable. Pings to Singapore, PLDT and Globe, still remained the same. I happened to experience a total of two separate occasions where my connection went down. The first time was a maintenance issue since they were doing some upgrades on their back end. I was surprised to receive a text message days in advance that this will happen. The maintenance lasted the morning until late afternoon, so when I got back home from the office, I was pleased that the connection was up and running and there were no problems.
The second time that my connection was down, there was no planned maintenance and I panicked a little inside. So I called the support number (which was stickered on the modem) and after a few rings, a human being picked up the call. It wasn’t a machine to tell you to press so and so numbers to report your problem. Or an annoying theme song singing back to you on an endless loop. Nope. It was a human being!
I told her my problem and the operator asked for my contact details and she assured me someone will call back. 20 minutes after, someone actually did and we went through some basic troubleshooting actions (restarting the modem, plugging directly to the modem). After all that failed, he said he will check on their back end and will call me within the day. When I heard this, I assumed the worst and planned to call them back tonight when I get back from the office if my connection was still down. A few hours later, that same person (sorry I wasn’t able to catch his name), called back and updated the status of my connection and said that there was something wrong with the outdoor box that was affecting my connection and they are sending some people to fix it now. A few more hours after that call, the tech called back to ask if my connection was up since the repairs were completed already. Unfortunately I wasn’t home yet to confirm if it was really up. So the tech said he will leave a number for me to text in case the connection was still down when I went home and somebody will call if ever it still was.
That same night, when I finally came home, I anxiously checked my connection if it was up and with a bit of dread, it was still down. So I texted the number that was given to me earlier and I reported that my connection was still down. A few minutes after, somebody called back and asked me if I had restarted my modem. With a face-palm action, I followed his suggestion and everything was back up and running again. I thanked him and said everything was finally okay.
My whole customer support experience was surprisingly refreshing and painless. There was no waiting on the phone for an operator to answer and there was constant communication with me on what's happening with my connection. I’m not left in the dark, nor left frustrated that I can’t get my issues resolved. I genuinely want to applaud their customer service team as they really make me, as a subscriber, feel appreciated and very taken cared of.
All in all, I’m pretty happy with the service I am receiving from Converge ICT. We’re all tired with poor reliability, speed and peering from the big two ISPs, at least now we have finally have the best option that’s available to us now in the Philippines.
*Disclaimer: Just to clear the air of any doubt and suspicion, this is not a paid advertisement for Converge ICT, nor am I connected to the company whatsoever. I simply wanted to give where credit is due and wanted to talk about my very positive experience with the ISP.
Update as of May 12, 2015
As requested by some people on the comments asking for an update on my subscription. I'm happy to report that Converge ICT has proven to be reliable after being a subscriber for about 7 months now. Just to clarify: my subscription started around October 2014.
Coincidentally, a few days ago as of this posting, I've encountered another run in with their customer support. My connection suddenly went down and I did the standard troubleshooting methods of restarting both my modem and router, but unfortunately that did not help. I was forced to call again their customer support and as usual, there was a quick answer and I reported my problem. The operator assured me that they'll look into it and she asked for my contact details to know where she can call back. After a few minutes, I got a call back and their technical team has isolated the issue and will be sending someone to fix it. After approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes, my internet is up again. I was pleasantly surprised that they reacted this quick, because compared to PLDT or Globe, it will usually take them days before anything can get done. It turns out the fiber optic cable was bent due to the some construction work that our local power company, Meralco, was doing. Technically it wasn't entirely their fault, but still, hats off to them for their quick response!
I'm still sticking to my guns and would still back my claim that they are really the best ISP in the Philippines.