A RURAL country pub hampered by slow broadband speeds and poor BT service has left the new owner searching for alternative options.
Rhiannon Metters took over The Halfway at Tal-y-Coed, between the historic towns of Monmouth and Abergavenny, with her partner Anthony James in March 2022.
The couple have plans to diversify the business and “put something back” in the local community.
But faults on the landline and broadband has seen the pub lose a considerable amount of trade and income after the tills were put out of use and customers were unable to make card payments.
While the latest fault has now been fixed, with Openreach replacing a worn cable and BT offering goodwill credit as financial recompense, Ms Metters has been told to expect continued slow internet speeds as the Tal-y-Coed area is not included in ultrafast full fibre build plans.
“BT are very pleasant but there seems to be no admission of poor service and I am not feeling that optimistic due to previous experiences,” said Ms Metters.
“If I am trying to take a card payment and answer the phone at the same time, the line can’t cope and the tills go off.
“I lose a huge amount of trade when the landline is not working, particularly at weekends. Because of our rural location, my customers like to ensure they are booked in for Sunday lunch as they don’t want to drive here without the guarantee they can eat. But when I can’t hear them on the phone or they can’t hear me, they understandably don’t come.
“There is no mobile signal at the pub either so we are reliant on a working phone line and WiFi connection. Without either, I really won’t survive. If BT cannot provide me with a stable service, I can see no other way forward other than to look for an alternative solution.”
Monmouth MP David Davies visited Tal-y-Coed to find out more about the problems affecting The Halfway and how the topography of the area makes improving digital infrastructure a challenge.
“Basic broadband connections are simply not good enough for delivering the reliable speeds which rural businesses need in today’s digital age,” said Mr Davies.
“The Halfway is a fantastic country pub and real gem in the heart of the Monmouthshire countryside. Rhiannon is building a loyal customer base, with traditional pub meals, hearty Sunday lunches, monthly quiz nights, live music and open mic nights.
“But when the phone line or WiFi goes down, it’s a real threat to the viability of her business. I have asked BT Openreach to make sure all possibilities have been explored and will be helping Rhiannon to look at alternative solutions such as satellite broadband and the UK Government’s gigabit broadband voucher scheme.
“The last thing we want to see is the loss of a vital community hub because of insufficient broadband.”