Broadband has enabled a wide range of new earnings opportunities for individuals working on a contract or freelance basis for organizations such as Lyft, Uber and Airbnb – opportunities sometimes referred to as the “sharing economy.” According to new research from the Internet Innovation Alliance, sharing economy earnings average $3588 annually.

Assuming average broadband connectivity costs of $1200 annually for wireline and mobile, that means the average sharing economy worker sees a return of 299% percent on his or her investment in broadband.

Source: IIA

The $1,200 average annual broadband connectivity cost estimate came from previous IIA research.

Sharing Economy Earnings
The IIA report authors cite a definition of the sharing economy from Oxford dictionaries: “an economic system in which assets or services are shared between private individuals, either free or for a fee, typically by means of the internet.”

The IIA research about sharing economy earnings should be particularly interesting to rural broadband providers because rural residents may be very interested in earning extra income by, for example, selling home-made crafts through Etsy. The research results illustrate how broadband is not just a source of amusement but also can generate important economic benefits.

Researchers divided digital earnings platforms into four categories, including sharing assets, selling products, selling services and selling content.

Other highlights of the IIA research:

  • The sharing economy now includes about a third of U.S. workers, some of whom have traditional jobs as well.
  • The number of on-demand workers in the U.S. will nearly double by 2021. Nearly 10 million (9.2 million) Americans are expected to work in the sharing economy in the next four years, compared to 3.8 million in 2016.
  • About one third of Etsy sellers depend on their creative business as their sole occupation, while 65% started their Etsy shop to supplement income. On average, an Etsy seller’s business contributes 15% of total household income.
  • Two thousand YouTube channels have more than a million subscribers each and can monetize the channels using AdSense. Even some smaller channels are profitable. The operator of one YouTube channel with 240,000 subscribers makes $3,000 per month from YouTube ad revenue.
  • Revenue in the ridesharing segment will be $11,790 million in 2017. Revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate of 19.2%.
  • Three out of five (60%) of Airbnb hosts earn between $100 and $999 per month. One quarter earn more than $1000 monthly.

The IIA has done a considerable amount of research on the economic impact of broadband. Previous research measured the annual internet economic impact at $1 trillion annually.