FRUSTRATED Vodafone customers in Cwmbran were bemused to hear their lack of phone signal is due to too tall Christmas trees.
Customers in Cwmbran have written more than 60 comments on Vodafone’s online forum to complain about their mobile phone coverage over the past three weeks.
The South Wales Argus was told last week that the signal loss has been caused by a physical blockage in the path of the radio link which connects the two base stations which cover Cwmbran.
Yesterday, to customers’ astonishment, Tom, a commmunity manager at Vodafone, took to the forum and explained the problem is due to a Christmas tree farm interfering with the signal.
He said: "We stated earlier in this discussion that this issue is due to ‘line of sight’. This is when trees grow and block the signal from the mast.
"Trees at a local Christmas tree farm have grown so high they are now affecting the line of sight between masts. Unfortunately we’re not able to prune these trees and so need to find another way to get your coverage back.
“We’ve found a solution but this may take a few weeks. While we work on this, we’re looking at utilising a temporary mast so we can get things back to normal sooner rather than later."
Responses to Tom’s statement included: "Do you expect us to wait until the trees are cut for Christmas?", "Santa now gets the blame. Hope he doesn’t knock over any masts when his reindeer flies overhead!" and "There is no christmas tree farm in cwmbran town centre".
On Twitter, users were equally angry: @Kookoo84 said: "Vodafone really sort the signal out in cwmbran. Its getting annoying now"
@claremayers said: "Vodafone signal probs in cwmbran are beyond ridiculous now!"
@simonbeesley said: "It's nearly as good as 'the next train is delayed by leaves on the line!'"
A Vodafone spokeswoman said: "We would like to apologise to our customers in Cwmbran who are experiencing signal problems.
"Tree growth has disrupted the service but our engineers have been working on a solution and we have identified a suitable remedy.
"Unfortunately, the work required could take some weeks so we are exploring the option of deploying a temporary site in the area to make sure customers can continue to use our services."
‘If I stand in garden with a wire I get faint signal’
SIMON Beesley, 43, a store manager from Pontnewydd, has had no phone signal for nearly a month.
He said: “At first I thought the signal issue was something to do with my Iphone5, as I bought it the day before the problems started. But by Monday we realised it was a Cwmbran-wide problem.
“In my house, 99 per cent of the time I have no service.
If I stand in my garden holding a coat hanger or umbrella I get a couple of bars, but it’s still very weak.
“On the rare occasions I do have a small amount of signal, it’s garbled and windy sounding.
“My sister went into labour the other week and had to have an emergency caesarean section, but no-one could tell me as I was unreachable.
“We haven’t had a landline in two years, but last week I had to put one in just so people could get hold of us.
“You just don’t expect this sort of thing from a multinational company which makes millions in profits every year. If I was in their PR department I would just have said there was a problem we are trying to fix.
Saying it’s the fault of Christmas trees just opens them up to ridicule.
“But we’re not being told how long this is going to last for. There just doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.”