UK bar blocks mobile phone signal to encourage conversation

Gin Tub's proprietor hopes move will encourage customers to talk to one another

UK bar blocks mobile phone signal to encourage conversation

Photo: Gin Tub/Facebook

Of all the gin joints in all the world, one bar in the UK is taking a different approach to stop its patrons using smartphones.

The Gin Tub in East Sussex isn't banning them, but blocking their signals, using a technique first discovered over a century ago. 

The proprietor was inspired by 19th century physicist Michael Faraday.

Steve Tyler told Sky News: "So basically we built a Faraday cage. A Faraday cage is a tin box that prevents signals from coming in.

"I just wanted people to enjoy a night out in my bar, without being interrupted by their phones.

"So rather than asking them not to use their phones, I stopped the phones working."

Mr Tyler said the only complaint he had was from a customer whose phone did in fact work. He moved them to another table.

The system was easy to install.

He added: "It's not difficult at all.

"It's silver foil in the walls and it's copper mesh. And it's not the perfect system, it's not military grade.

"The Americans are still listening. But the general public get poor signal or no signal, so they have to go outside to use their phones.

"That's what I want them to do. I want them to talk to the people they're with, not the people they're not with."

UK law

The law is slightly unclear on blocking phones.

The Wireless Telegraph Act 2006 states that "the use of any apparatus, whether or not wireless telegraphy apparatus, for the purpose of interfering with any wireless telegraphy, is an offence".

That includes electronic jamming devices (which the Gin Tub isn't using), since those interfere with communications over a wide area, and could disrupt emergency services.

Faraday cages, however, are a grey area.

An Ofcom spokesman said: "Unlike jammers, Faraday cages don't proactively cause interference, although they do interfere with mobile reception.

"We would always recommend people seek legal advice if they are unsure whether an installation breaches wireless telegraphy laws."