Goals for Success

California Emerging Technology Fund: Catalyst for Action

The California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) was founded as a public benefit from the mergers of SBC-AT&T and Verizon-MCI approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in 2005. AT&T and Verizon contributed a total of $60 million in Seed Capital to establish CETF. The CPUC assigned CETF with the mission to close the Digital Divide by accelerating the deployment and adoption of broadband and other advanced communications services to unserved and underserved communities. CETF is a unique organization in the nation—no other state has such a non-profit with a primary mission to close the Digital Divide by addressing the challenges of both “supply” and “demand” to increase the use of technologies enabled by ubiquitous high-speed Internet access. As originally envisioned by the CPUC, CETF has been a vital catalyst for bringing together diverse stakeholders—from elected officials and policymakers, to regional and local civic leaders, to community-based organizations (CBOs) and broadband providers—to collectively address the challenges associated with the many facets of the Digital Divide.

The work of CETF is guided by a Strategic Action Plan adopted by the Board of Directors in 2007 after a thorough assessment of existing research and an intense statewide “listening and fact finding” process to determine “what works” in closing the Digital Divide. The Strategic Action Plan was “peer reviewed” by more than 60 stakeholders convened by the California Foundation on the Environment and Economy. As set forth in the Strategic Action Plan, CETF is performance-driven and outcomes-focused with overall metrics for accountability that drive a disciplined culture to achieve results—to produce a tangible “return on investment” of the original Seed Capital. CETF set overall broadband goals for success in a decade (by 2017) at 98% deployment and 80% adoption. CETF identified 3 priority consumer communities for grantmaking: Rural and Remote Areas; Urban Disadvantaged Neighborhoods; and People with Disabilities. To date, CETF has leveraged 4-fold the investments in grants and has facilitated significant additional public and private investment to close the Digital Divide.

Goals for Success: 98% Deployment and 80% Adoption
Supply - Deploment

  • Access for At Least 98% of Households by 2023
  • Robust Rural-Urban California Telehealth Network (CTN)
  • All Tribal Lands Connected and Part of CTN

Demand - Adoption

  • Statewide Adoption 80% by 2017 and 90% by 2023
  • Adoption in All Regions and Socioeconomic Groups At Least 70%
  • Increased Overall Accessibility and Universal Design

California a Global Leader in Deployment and Adoption

  • Sufficient Speeds for Consumer Applications that Drive Adoption
  • Increased Economic Productivity
  • Reduced Environmental Impacts


The term “divide” is used to refer to significant differences in conditions and/or behaviors between and among major demographic segments of the population and the overall population as a whole. The term “Digital Divide” refers to the situation in which significant segments of the population do not have access or are not using technology at the same rate and manner as the average experience in the population—there are wide differences in access to and use of broadband (a generic term for high-speed Internet service, including both wireline and wireless technologies). For example, in 2008 when the baseline Annual Survey was conducted regarding broadband adoption in California, 55% of the overall population had broadband service at home, but there were large disparities among the demographic groups and regions: low-income households (under $40,000 annual income) were 33%, Latino households were at 34%; and people with disabilities were 36% in comparison to black households at 66%, Asian households at 67%, and while white households at 68%. Broadband adoption for regions ranged from a low of 48% for the Los Angeles Region to a high of 65% in the Bay Area.

As a general rule in statistical variations, CETF recognizes that a “divide” exists if any segment of the population is 10 percentage points or more away from the population as a total (or average).  That is why CETF set the 10-year goal for broadband adoption to be 80% with no one region or segment of the population less than 70%.