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What Causes Text Message Delays?

by Chris JosephUpdated September 28, 2017

If you frequently send and receive text messages with your mobile device, you've probably experienced the frustration of a delayed message at some point. In some instances, a delivery delay can last as long as several days, or the message may never get through at all. Text message delays can occur for a number of reasons.

Location Issues

The location of the sender or receiver can create a delay in text message delivery. If a mobile device is located outside a network's coverage area or in a spot where the network signal is blocked such as in a mountainous region, a delay in transmission may occur. In urban areas, tall buildings can also cause transmission issues. Being in an old building with poor cell reception is another possible culprit.

Mobile Device Issues

Problems with a mobile device may cause delays in text message transmission. If a device is turned off, it likely will not receive the text until it is turned back on. A weak or uncharged battery may also negatively impact message delivery. Devices that have an adjustable antenna may experience transmission difficulties if the antenna has sustained damage or has not been fully raised.

Different Networks

A text sender and receiver using different networks may have a greater chance of experiencing texting delays than those using the same network. According to the CNN Tech website, a network problem in June 2011 caused Sprint users to experience delays in receiving texts from those outside the Sprint network. In some cases, messages were received several days after being sent or were not received at all. However, transmission between Sprint network users occurred with no problems.

Network Traffic

There are differing opinions as to whether texting during periods of heavy network use impacts text delivery speed. In an article on TampaBay.com, Jared Reitzin, CEO of mobile and email marketing firm MobileStorm, said increased network traffic is a growing problem and has created more delays in text message delivery as of 2010. However, Verizon Wireless spokesperson Chuck Hamby indicated that network issues are rarely to blame for texting delays.

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