IIA: Broadband is Big Shopping Bonus

Digital divide revealed in value of online comparison shopping
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"You better shop around," goes the old song, but those without access to broadband are at a distinct disadvantage.

The Internet Innovation Alliance says that the average family can save about $10,500 per year by using broadband to comparison shop. It is even more--$12,114.09--before subtracting the cost of a home broadband service and mobile data plan ($1,575).

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That is based on the Department of Labor 2017 Consumer Expenditure Survey.

IIA says those savings, on necessities like gas, food and housing, result from the ability to "expand buying options, utilize mobile applications to identify nearby deals, and access online-only pricing."

The biggest savings by percentage with broadband was in online bill paying and by raw dollars, not surprisingly, it was big ticket items like cars and houses.

The report, "10 Ways Being Online Saves You Money," was authored by financial planner Nicholas Delgado, principal of Chicago investment bank Dignitas, for IIA.

One of the big reasons the digital divide needs closing is that online-only pricing or discounts for things like paying bills and various government services, like paying for new car registrations online, wind up being a regressive tax since it is usually on rural and lower-income areas that lack broadband but could most use a price break.

“In 2018, online purchasing power is taken for granted by the majority of Americans, but the reality is that many people are still missing out on the possibility of internet-enabled savings," said IIA co-chair Bruce Mehlman. "We need to put policies in place that encourage the expansion and availability of high-speed broadband internet, especially fifth-generation wireless, to help close the digital divide and bring the benefits of broadband to all.”

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