PUC Compromise Decision on Teleconnect Fund

Since late May, much attention has been on the PUC to learn what changes were in store for the California Teleconnect Fund (CTF). PUC staff had proposed dozens of changes to the program, starting with what size organizations could participate, what programs would qualify, which carrier services would be reimbursed, and specific reporting requirements for organizations receiving the discount, as well as for the carriers participating in the program. While the proposed changes were not solely focused on community-based organizations, these nonprofit groups potentially stood to lose the most from the proposed changes (see prior posts).

The California Association of Nonprofits sent task force members and staff to meet with PUC officials. There were discussions about the disproportionate impacts on rural organizations, organizations that continue to rely on voice service for communications with their clients, and more.

In the final decision, voice service discounts were partially preserved (25% subsidy, down from 50%, beginning in July 2016). This is good news for all CTF-eligible organizations in California as it allows for continued discounted service for voice as well as internet-based VoIP service. (If you use Alternative’s VoIP service, you will receive a separate communication on this subject from us, as well as suggestions for how to maintain records to preserve your organization’s CTF eligibility in future years.)

Significant restrictions on eligibility were passed. It is likely that new requirements will preclude some community-based organizations that would have qualified in the past. Also, a new process of re-qualifying (every three years) is likely to reduce the pool of CBO recipients further.

For more information about how recent changes to the Teleconnect Fund will affect your organization’s carrier costs, email chrisf@alternativetechs.com.