With more than nine in ten residents (91%) surfing the Internet, Bristol has emerged as the most virtually literate core city in England.

As the graph below illustrates, the latest data from the Office of National Statistics shows that Bristolians are more likely to have used internet than their peers in the other English core cities plus London.

Almost 330,000 Bristol adults “used the Internet at least once in the last three months” during the first quarter of 2015. Indeed, the proportion of Bristol’s connected citizens is significantly higher than the national average of 86%, and also exceeds the regional norm, which sees 87% of the South West’s citizens joining the virtual global community.

The extent of Bristol’s virtual awareness is also reflected in the proportion of the city’s population who rarely, or never, use the Internet. According to the ONS, fewer than one in ten (8.6%) Bristolian’s have not logged on over the last three months, or have never used the Internet at all, which is the lowest percentage out of the English core cities.


How has the Internet-literacy rate evolved in recent years? The data from the ONS illustrates that Bristolians’ familiarity with the Internet has grown significantly faster than the UK average. In this respect, the region as a whole performs fairly well, showing a growing rate higher than the national average and, regionally, is second only to the South East (London area excluded).

Internet Literacy Growth

Unsurprisingly, there are some demographic differences among those who have frequent access to the Internet showing that some digital divides persist between generations and across genders. However, it seems clear that for a city characterised by high rates of Internet usage, these fluctuations in Internet literacy will soon be a thing of the past, as the world digital community continues to expand in its appeal to new users.


Sources: Bristol JSNA 2015 Report
ONS Internet Access Quarterly Update 2015

Simone Grassi, Bristol Is Open