What Will the Wireless Philadelphia Budget Look Like?

One of the lines of questioning at yesterday’s City Council hearing examined what the revenues and expenses of Wireless Philadelphia would be. While it’s all speculative, especially before a permanent CEO is hired, this is what we heard:

To get off the ground, Earthlink will make all of the electricity payments in the first two years. WP will pay back its 50% share of those PECO bills in years 3-10. WP’s payments on the $1.4 million loan from the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC, which manages PAID) will be deferred for the first year. Those measures are intended to allow WP to get off the ground using the $2 million lump sum payments from Earthlink (for the pole attachments), which will come in over the first 18 months of the project.

WP’s staff will be small: a CEO, an executive assistant, and one or two program managers. The CEO will be paid $150-175,000/year. A large portion of WP’s work will consist of processing applications for the subsidized accounts. (That seems unfortunate to me, to use up “digital inclusion” money processing applications for digital inclusion.)

By year 3, WP will be paying it’s half of the PECO bills, repayments on the PECO bills from years 1 and 2, repayments on the PIDC loan, and the organizational overhead. This will undoubtedly chew up the $750,000-$1,000,000 per year from Earthlink.

The expectation is that Wireless Philadelphia will raise an additional $3-4 million a year through foundations, government grants, and corporate donors to support its digital inclusion programs. While I believe a prominent non-profit with a well-paid CEO will be able to raise that money, the downside is that the money is coming from a limited pool and other community technology programs may lose out in the process.

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4 Comments

  1. [...] 5) In terms of ‘other services’ that this board might do — appropriate ones might be to help with fundraising, if so much of the budget for community internet services will be coming from private funds instead of the profit-sharing from Earthlink. But to engage regularly with a larger group of community leaders and stakeholders that self-organize into a Community Advisory Board — that should be on the list. [...]

  2. [...] 5) In terms of ‘other services’ that this board might do — appropriate ones might be to help with fundraising, if so much of the budget for community internet services will be coming from private funds instead of the profit-sharing from Earthlink. But to engage regularly with a larger group of community leaders and stakeholders that self-organize into a Community Advisory Board — that should be on the list. [...]

  3. [...] If you’re interested, I’ve written earlier on what the Wireless Philadelphia budget will look like. Their main tasks will be fundraising, dispersing the Digital Inclusion accounts and supporting other as-yet-unspecified DI programs, and overseeing the network by monitoring service levels and keeping City Council and the Mayor’s office informed. [...]

  4. [...] But Josh Breitbart tells us what they’re going to do with the money.  First, they’re going to pay the salary of a CEO – $150,000 to $175,000 per year – an executive assistant, and one or two program managers. Then, they’re going to use all this high-paid help do two things – process applications for $10 per month accounts from impoverished households, and raise money from foundations, corporations, private donors, and government. [...]

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