Protecting the Sanctity of the British Pub. Is Nothing Sacred?

Topic: Pearls of Wisdom

James E. Houston, CIM, FCSI

August 12, 2016

Image used with permission: iStock/ftwitty


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Protecting the Sanctity of the British Pub. Is Nothing Sacred?

As cell phone and smart phone use becomes more and more pervasive, we are much more likely to be exposed to the awkward, and often annoying, situations that might arise. As the elevator doors are closing, somebody jumps in midway through a cell phone conversation with a loved one. The couple dining at the table next to you in a restaurant furiously bang away at the virtual keys on their personal electronic devices. Are they asking each other how they enjoyed the tiramisu? More recently, you may be forced into an immediate evasive manouvre around a suddenly stationary Pokemon Go player as you walk down a busy downtown street.

According to a report in The Guardian, a publican in England has installed a Faraday cage within the walls of his pub to block wireless phone signals and to force his customers to speak with each other and remember how to socialise.1 Steve Tyler of the Gin Tub in East Sussex now has copper mesh and silver foil running through the walls and ceiling of his pub which redistributes the electromagnetic wireless signals and prevents them from entering the building. Although electric jamming devices are illegal in England, a Faraday cage is not because it doesn’t proactively cause interference.

As much as Mr. Tyler is taking a stand in his own little world, there are few signs that growth in phone usage is slowing. As of June, 2016, the wireless providers in Canada had combined subscribers of 29.6 million. While that number represents over 90 percent of Canada’s population over the age of ten, net new subscribers were added at a rate of  more than 200,000 in the second quarter alone. That’s greater than the population of Regina. And those who like their phones, like them a lot. While Canadian data is not readily available, according to Digital Trends, the average American spends a staggering 4.7 hours a day on their phone.2 I’ll see you at the Gin Tub.

1. “Sussex Bar Blocks Mobile Signals to Encourage Sociability”, Nadia Khomani, The Guardian, Aug 2, 2016
2. “Americans Spend an Alarming Amount of Time Checking Social Media on Their Phones”, Lulu Chang, Digital Trends, June 13, 2015

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