The Application Process for Community Based Organizations

This video explains the California Teleconnect Fund and shows how community based nonprofit organizations can qualify through the California Public Utilities Commission to receive discounts on telephone and Internet carrier services. Please note that program modifications instituted in 2016 have changed discounting and eligibility since the making of this video.

CTF application form and checklist available below. This HD video extends full screen.


Frequently asked questions about the California Teleconnect Fund.

Does it cost money to apply?
No. This is a public purpose program from the Public Utilities Commission. There is no fee to apply.

How long does it typically take to complete an application?
The application itself is truly simple. It requires organization contacts and checking appropriate boxes. The supporting documents may take some time to gather. See the application (above) for the checklist.

How do we know if our organization is eligible?
If your organization has programs delivering health, education or job training in California, then you should read the guidelines on the application or the PUC website. Be sure you are using the most up-to-date application as requirements and guidelines for eligibility changed in 2016.

Does our Executive Director need to sign?
No, any authorized representative of a 501(c)3 may sign.

Does our board need to approve the application?
Probably not. There is no contract or obligation associated with getting approved.

When is the deadline?
There is no deadline. Applications are accepted throughout the calendar year.

Can we file our CTF application online?
No. Most applications are sent in a 9″ x 12″ envelope, with the application form and about 7 more supporting pages.

Do all carriers participate?
Many, but not all. Check for the PUC website for service providers. Remember to make sure you document your communication with your carrier to make sure you get the discount you deserve. Also, be aware that not all carrier services are eligible for the discount.

My carrier says they already give us a discount. Should I also try to get the CTF discount?
Probably. We can’t speculate on the discount you might be getting, but we can tell you that we have never seen a case where carriers provide a better discount than the Teleconnect Fund.

How can we tell if we are already approved?
If your organization is receiving the discount, it will be shown as a line-item credit on every monthly bill. If you were approved, your organization will be listed as one of the CBOs eligible on this webpage. If you have questions, please contact us-we can help.

Is the Teleconnect Fund only for VoIP service?
No. The original intent of the legislation creating the Teleconnect Fund was in part to promote adoption of advanced communication services. VoIP is an example of an advanced communication service. In our experience, whether a community based organization chooses to go with VoIP or a more traditional digital PBX system is dependent on location and usage patterns. We help CBOs in both situations. The discount applies regardless.

Is the Teleconnect Fund only for telephone service?
No. The discount also applies to Internet service for many (but not all) types of connection. For many years,  a 50% discount applied to telephone carrier service monthly recurring charges. This was changed to 25% in 2016. There is an exception to this change in the discount. If your organization does not have access to broadband internet service, a 50% discount is still allowed for voice.  (We believe this applies most commonly to rural-based organizations). The 50% discount has been retained for internet service (a data connection) with more strict requirements. For example, the 50% discount is only to be applied for services used in programs, not for administrative purposes. See the PUC website for more details.

How long until we see discounts reflected on our bill?
After your organization is approved, you must notify your carrier to apply the discount. It can take one to three months to see the discount on your bill. The amount of the credit goes back to your approval date if you notify them promptly.

We’re not seeing 50% reduction on our bill despite being approved. What should we do?
If you are seeing no credit on your bill, contact your carrier and refer back to your original notification (because you documented that communication!) If you are seeing some credit, but not as much as you expected, it is likely that some of your billed services are not eligible for the 50% reduction. Contact us and we’ll help you interpret the discrepancy.

Can Alternative Technologies help with the application?
The application requires documentation of your eligible programs. This is an important step to getting approved. Email Chris about CTF.

How can Alternative Technologies help us?
We can give you an accurate estimate of what your bill should be with your current carrier, and possibly point to a different carrier if there is something better for you. We work with about a half dozen telephone and Internet service providers so we have good awareness of the best available rates.