Major Changes to Teleconnect Fund

 

On April 25, 2019, the Public Utilities Commission officially voted to discontinue support under the California Teleconnect Fund (CTF) for voice services effective July 1, 2019. CTF is a public purpose program created in 1996 that enabled nonprofit community-based organizations to get telephone and internet services at a discount. Numerous changes to the program had been proposed, explored and debated over the past six years. This decision was not unexpected.  

Staff at Alternative Technologies participated to defend and preserve the level of discounts for voice service and to uphold the eligibility requirements for nonprofit organizations and their programs. We worked with allies including CalNonprofits and TURN, an organization focused on utility and carrier issues at the state level. We advocated on behalf of organizations involved in health, education and job training for residents who have fewer resources and less access to services. We believe that our participation had some influence in preserving the best parts of a program that we firmly believe benefits all Californians.

Which changes are potentially most significant for your organization? 

Eliminating discounts for voice services.

This will directly affect previously approved nonprofits throughout California. They will see an increase in the cost of their voice carrier services starting July 1, 2019.

Requiring that at least 50% of an organization’s mission and programs are CTF eligible.

In the future, all current recipients of the CTF discount will be required to re-apply for the discount through an “Application Renewal Process.” The PUC will contact organizations about that process in coming months. It is important that your organization maintain accurate name, address or contact information in their database. Failure to do so may cause a delay or cancellation of your discounts. To update your records at the CPUC, you can send your organization’s name, address or contact information to CTFHelp@cpuc.ca.gov. See the Official CTF Notice here.

There are other implications that will affect some customers or direct how carriers or PUC staff will conduct aspects of the program in the future. These include:

    • Expanding CTF-eligible services to include all mobile broadband services.
    • Updating the definition of a CTF-eligible Community Based Organization.
    • Adopting a cost allocation process for non-E-rate CTF participants.
    • Requiring the development of a CTF web-portal for applications and claims.

If you have an interest in understanding the full three-phase process of the comprehensive overhaul of the program, you can check the PUC website

Download the full 59-page CPUC Decision 19-04-013 here.