California Provides Discounted Phone and Broadband Services to Those in Need. Check Out The California Teleconnect Fund.
There’s a massive gap in the U.S. between those who can afford technology, and those who can’t—This extends to schools and libraries that can’t support investments in computers and broadband Internet access.
California’s Teleconnect Fund provides a way to bridge this digital gap by offering discounted telephone and broadband services to hospitals, schools and libraries.
The Digital Divide has been a focus for large organizations across the country. However, the California Teleconnect Fund is taking active steps to narrow this gap by providing discounts of up to 50% on telephone and broadband Internet services to hospitals, schools, libraries and other Community Based Organizations (CBOs).
This isn’t a government subsidy. Rather, it’s fully supported by a surcharge on the monthly telephone bills of payers throughout the state.
The Need for Vital Communications Tools
Equal communications access is critical to ensure a truly free and democratic world. While many refer to reduced communication functions as something that happens outside of the U.S., and only in developing countries, there are plenty of places within our country where obtaining access to high-quality communication tools is still a challenge. This is especially true in rural areas of the country.
You may not think of most of California as rural, but there are many areas where connectivity is still quite limited.
The California Teleconnect Fund provides a way for all Californians to have access to critical telecommunications technology from an early age, throughout their adult careers.
The ability to access the Internet is often a shortcut to economic growth in less-developed nations. Power lines and satellite communications are some of the most effective ways to bring down the cost of Internet access in rural areas.
The founders of the California Teleconnect Fund believe the universality of the Internet provides a level the playing field for individuals from all walks of life. and all levels of ability.
Those eligible include nonprofits, public schools, hospitals, health clinics, libraries and community colleges that serve communities in California. Their total revenue must not exceed $5 million. They must also be located within California’s borders and have a 501(c)3 or 501(d) designation as a tax-exempt entity. In addition, they must provide community services as a CBO, such as:
- Job Training
- Job Placement
- Health Care
- 2-1-1 Referral services
- Community Technology Programs
- Educational Instruction
Organizations may apply for CTF discounts by applying online here.
It’s important to note that CBOs must re-certify every three years, so it is important for you to know if your organization is currently receiving this benefit. You can quickly check by checking your telecommunications vendor invoices for a “CTF Discount” or similar language.
There are nuances when it comes the Digital Divide. Technically, it’s defined as overall access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). This can be anything from having a reliable Internet connection, to access to related services such as mobile telephones, tablets and computers. Even having computers with lower performance levels and slower Internet connections can cause a significant difference in the adoption rates of technology when it comes to lower-income families, versus those with greater resources.
While the CTF offers a large first step towards access to the Internet for all individuals, there’s still much more work to be done. Teachers note that students without access to high-speed Internet are more likely to fall behind.
As schools bring more technology advancements into the classroom, the ability to benefit from these tools will, unfortunately, continue to result in a widening gap between students with varying degrees of access to technology.
Fortunately, the 25-50 percent discount on eligible services is set to continue for the foreseeable future. It will benefit a large number of individuals who would otherwise have struggled to find access to new or advanced telecommunications tools.
For more information about technology initiatives such as the CTF, or others in your community, contact KalioTek in Silicon Valley & The Bay Area at +1 (408) 550-8000 or via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org