Getting older, not necessarily wiser!
I have been using Converge ICT for about six months. I feel I have garnered enough experience, both good and bad, to render an honest opinion about their residential service.
This is a collation of my observations and my personal opinion (I am not a fan of the “In My Opinion” IMO abbreviation, as I am writing this, it is all my opinion).
But first I need to put this into perspective. I am writing this in August of 2022, and I initially started using Converge ICT in March 2022. Up to this point I had been using Globe At Home Prepaid Wifi. In fact I had just upgraded the month before to Globes LTE+ modem. Cellular based Wifi, until recently, has never been that fast. During peak hours I was lucky to get 1 – 2 Mbps. On off hours I was seeing 10 – 20 Mbps. However I was not living full time at the residence. Once that started, even 20 Mbps was not going to cut it with multiple people streaming content at the same time. And Converge had just become available in the area.
Just a side note, since Globe At Home Wifi is prepaid, I keep the modem around as a backup for times when Converge ICT goes down. And yes they do go down on occasion.
I have configured it similarly to the Converge Modem, so when Converge goes down I put a load on the Globe Modem, plug it in, and I am back on line, albeit at a much slower speed.
Unfortunately, this experience is the same as most Internet Service Providers (ISP). A web site full of ads making it very difficult to find all the information you want. Seriously they need a plain page that just gives the facts about their products without all the hype.
I will give Converge credit for actually stating that you may not get the “Up Too” advertised speeds, and that your speeds will vary depending on usage. Admittedly it is in much smaller type but it is there. I have seen many an ISP advertise just the “Up To” speed, which is only under ideal conditions (something that does not happen).
Now I must take away some credit because of stuff that should be present, but is not. Again Converge ICT is not alone in this practice.
Converge ICT uses Carrier Grade Network Address Translation (CGNAT). This is something people might want to know. Without getting in the weeds (read this post if you are interested), this means that you do not have a public facing IP address. Therefore if you are running any sort of server it will not be visible from the internet unless you get really creative with a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This is probably not important to 90% of the people, but it will be a deal buster for some.
CGNAT is a reality at this time due to the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses. Which brings up another item they should mention on their website, when are they going to IPv6. I mean it has been around since 1998 and was finalized in 2007 (five years ago). IPv6 would certainly alleviate the need for CGNAT. However looking at the price differences between residential and business accounts, I suspect this is more about making money than technology. Nothing new there.
Another interesting thing I found about residential accounts, is that on some modems, Converge pre- blocks some if the LAN ports. Why? I don’t know. Like most commercial routers, the one I got was fairly easy to hack and unblock all the ports. I don’t really see what they gain by doing this.
I will say that the Converge ICT plans are competitively and reasonably priced. And the detractors I mention above are not going to apply to most residential customers, with the possible exception of those that work from home in technical fields that require some of the above features.
I should also note that pretty much all ISP providers in the Philippines have the same restrictions (with the possible exception of blocking ports, I know Globe does not do this on their At Home Wifi).
There is not a lot to say here. If you read the fine print, you get what they advertise. I find the speed of my internet connection to be excellent. Yes there are some variations during peak load times, but overall I give them a thumbs up.
As for quality, I do have a few issues. Specifically with certain streaming services. This actually seems to be a location based problem. Let me give an example. When visiting relatives down in Calamba City, I can stream YouTube without issue. However back in Tagaytay City YouTube buffers all the time on some devices, and I have faster service. Note that with a VPN the buffering goes away. But I find it interesting that this issue seems regional.
On a side note I have noticed that the devices that don’t buffer are using older versions of the YouTube application. So I have a theory about what is happening that I will test out some time in the future.
But back to the issue, it exists in one location but not another on the same ISP, it is probably an issue with the ISP. I would guess throttling some IP addresses.
This is where Converge falls short. Bu they are not alone in this. Compared to other ISPs they are average. But the average is really low.
This is nothing against the technicians. Any actual technical Converge employee I have talked to is very knowledgeable. The problem is actually talking to a technical person, which is not most of their help desk.
For example, if you examine their twitter feed, you will see pretty quickly that they are using a script, and not a very complicated one. One of my favorites is when you ask a question, and they immediately drop into the customer has a problem script! Not a problem, just a question, just answer it, end of story. That would be so nice. But that means hiring technical people for your help desk.
Again, this is not just a Converge ICT problem. Most ISPs world wide have this problem. Back when I was working in the corporate sector, I saw major corporations reduce cost by striping out the technical expertise from their service organizations and help desks. It is a lot cheaper to hire someone who just reads a script than it is to hire someone who will actually know the product and will be able to intelligently discuss issues with the customer.
This has been a little longer than I expected. I also hope I did not scare anyone off. Most of the above issues will be the same with any ISP in the Philippines. But some of it may be important to some customers.
I have tried to point out all the issues I wish I would have known up front. I know some of them will not be important to most customers. But they will be important to someone. So forewarned is forearmed.