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Troubleshooting GSM text (SMS) messaging

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Last updated by Isabel M

If you're having trouble sending or receiving regular text (SMS) messages, here are a few quick and easy troubleshooting tips that might get you up and running.

Remember, these tips apply to text messaging using the standard messaging app on most phones and won't have much effect if you're using a messaging app that primarily uses the data or Wi-Fi networks to transmit messages. These troubleshooting tips are also not specifically meant for resolving issues with picture or video (MMS) messaging. For tips on troubleshooting MMS messaging, click here.

1. Check that there is coverage is available in your area.

If you're in an area where coverage is listed as "None", you won't be able to make calls or sent texts. To make sure that voice service is available where you are, plug your address into our map and check your voice coverage.

An area with no coverage will show up in white.


2. Confirm that your phone number is active

To check the status of your phone number, go to the Device settings page in your account and check that the Status of your phone is listed as "active".

If your number is suspended or still porting, those statuses will show up here and you will not be able to send or receive text messages.

 

3. Confirm that text messaging services are enabled on your account.

To confirm that text messaging is enabled on your account, go to the Device settings page for your phone and make sure that "Can send/receive text messages" is "Enabled".

If there is no edit icon at the top of the Messages section (i.e. you can't update your text messaging settings) then the number is not active.

If someone texting you is getting a "Message Blocking Active" error, this may also mean that you don't have text messaging enabled.

 

4. Make sure there isn't another type of conflict with the number you're texting.

Some 3-digit short codes won't work in some regions because they're assigned to city or government services already. Try calling the short code to see if it connect or if you can make and receive calls from that short code on another GSM phone. If not, then the short code is the issue. If so, keep troubleshooting.

5. Make sure you're entering a 10-digit phone number when sending a text.

If you're trying to send text messages using seven-digit phone numbers and they're not going through, try sending the messages again using 10 or 11 digits (for 11-digit dialing, add 1 at the beginning of the 10-digit phone number). If the text goes through delete the stored contact in your phone and re-add it with the 10- or 11-digit number--whichever one allowed the text to go through successfully.  

If other people are trying to text you using only seven digits, ask them to try again with 10 or 11 digits.

If you're choosing a contact already entered in your phone's address book, confirm that the contact is entered with the 10- or 11-digit phone number.

6. Confirm the country code for international texts.

If you're texting internationally make sure you're entering the country code correctly. A quick online search will help you find the correct country code.

7. Delete and re-enter your contact.

If you're having trouble texting to one specific contact, try deleting that contact and re-entering it. Make sure to re-enter it with the 10- or 11-digit phone number.

8. Confirm your email-to-text address with any senders.

If someone is trying to use email-to-text to contact you, ensure that they've entered your address correctly. It should be <your 10-digit phone number>@tmomail.net (i.e. 5555555555@tmomail.net).

Remember, email-to-text only supports regular text messaging, so if someone is trying to send you a picture or video message, it will not come through via email-to-text.

Also, email-to-text is not available while roaming internationally.

IMPORTANT:  Our GSM network partner aggressively filters messages that it thinks may be spam from common email domains like Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook.com, Aol, and elsewhere. Just like with email, there is no sure-fire way to get around a spam filter and our support team are not able to remove those filters. If you depend on email-to-text service, we recommend a free Google Voice or Google Hangouts account. If you need to automate SMS delivery for your business, you could also consider an (inexpensive, but paid) service like Twilio.

9. Remove anything that isn't plain text from the message.

To test whether you can send a text message at all, send a message with just plain text. That means taking out any emojis, graphics, pictures, ringtones, wallpapers, signatures, sounds, symbols or any type of attachment.

10. Try calling the number in question.

If there's a specific number that you're having trouble texting, try calling that number. Voice and text messages travel over the same part of the network so if you can call the number you're trying to text, you should be able to text as well. If you can reach that number by calling, but not with a text message, this may indicate that the receiver has a block of some sort in place. If you get a "message blocking active" error when you try, they may have not have messaging enabled or that they have a block in place.

Conversely, if someone is able to call you but they get a "message blocking active" error, you may have their number blocked for texting or you may need to check that you have text messaging enabled.

11. Make sure iMessaging isn't interfering.

If you've recently moved your phone number from an iPhone to an Android, Windows or feature phone, your number may still be registered as an iMessaging number and you'll need to disable that.

12. Power cycle or soft reset your phone and remove the SIM card.

Shut your phone down by holding and pressing the power button on a smartphone, or the Call End button on a feature phone. If you have a removable battery, remove it and the SIM card for about 30 seconds after you've shut the phone down. If your battery is not removable then just remove the SIM card. Then reinsert the battery and SIM card and power the phone back up.

13. If you're having issues with group messaging:

If you're the sender, click here for more information on resolving group messaging issues.

If you're the receiver, make sure you've got data enabled on your phone. Often, group text messages are converted into MMS messages by the sender's phone (depending on their settings) and your phone may need to have data enabled in order to receive those messages.

Also make sure that you have the correct APN settings for MMS messaging on your phone. For more information on APN settings click here and then click on the corresponding link for your phone type.

Remember, MMS messaging requires a data connection and will count towards your data usage so you'll also need to enable data ("Can access the Internet) if you don't have it enabled already.

 

Get in touch.

If none of these tips have gotten you up and running, then it's time to get in touch so we can help. Please be sure to let us know what you've done already so we know where to pick up.

 

A Note About Google Hangouts and iMessaging

Apps like Google Hangouts and the standard messaging app on iPhones can be a little confusing when it comes to SMS messaging, because they allow for standard text messaging as well as web-based messaging.

If you're using Google Hangouts as your default messaging app (it's the default on the Nexus 5 and 6 out of the box) you will have the option with each contact to send as SMS (or regular text) or as a Hangout message, if the recipient has a phone number associated with their gmail account. Somewhat like Google Hangouts, the native messaging app on iPhones is used for both regular SMS messaging and iMessaging. If a recipient is not an iMessage user, if iMessaging is disabled, or if neither data nor Wi-Fi are available, texts will send as SMS messages.

Since sending as SMS is a possibility through both of these apps, some of the troubleshooting tips in this article may be helpful if you're having trouble with text messaging, but you may also need to do further, app-specific, troubleshooting.

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