A MONMOUTHSHIRE MP has claimed that The Pony Express would be a quicker and more reliable form of communication than using the internet or texting in a remote Monmouthshire valley.

David Davies has said a lack of both mobile phone coverage and high-speed broadband in Llanthony has left residents stuck in the digital dark ages.

The area has no 3G signal and residents who want broadband have had to resort to expensive satellite dishes.

Without satellite, residents are forced to use unreliable and low-capacity ADSL (Asymmetric digital subscriber line), which offers broadband speeds of just 200 to 700KBs.

Problems have also been reported with the quality of land line telephone services given the distance from the exchange at Crucorney, more than 16 miles away.

Mr Davies said there was a "strong safety argument" for installing a mobile phone antenna in the valley which is a major hiking and pony trekking destination attracting large numbers of school children on expeditions for the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

He said: "I will be pressing BT to review their plans for Llanthony and rectify gaps in the broadband mobile network, especially as they have recently bought mobile phone operator EE.

"Broadband and mobile phone access are nowadays taken for granted as essential tools of modern life.

"While BT have told me eight out of 10 homes and businesses in Monmouthshire can access high-speed broadband today, this is scant comfort for those in the Llanthony Valley who feel badly let down.

"Small businesses are struggling with all facets of online communication, young people are dissuaded from remaining in an area stuck in the digital dark ages, and the older generation is increasingly isolated."

Vicky Neal, who runs the Llanthony Priory Hotel with her husband Geoff, said it was becoming increasingly difficult to expand a business blighted by poor internet connections.

"Having the ability to place orders online, keep social media platforms updated and access internet banking saves time and makes for a more efficient workplace," she said.

“Just because we happen to work in a rural community, we feel very strongly that in a world as fast-paced as the one we currently live in, we should have a fundamental right to the use of a reliable broadband service.

“The infrastructure to enable that to happen therefore needs to be put in place,” she added.

BT has said it does not yet have plans to bring superfast fibre broadband to the area.