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.