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This is a common enough, though highly aggravating, message that typically affects Android users. The ‘Message Not Sent, Service Not Activated on Network’ sounds a lot worse than it really is, however, and the underlying cause is fairly simple to identify.

Reasons for getting this message vary but could include an unactivated MMS (Multi-Messaging Service), a problem with your carrier SIM card, you need to clear your cache, your SMSC needs a refresh, or you simply need to contact your carrier. 

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There are some acronyms in there and, most of the time, these acronyms apply to prepaid services. However, someone can get the message while on a carrier plan that has nothing to do with prepaid. We’ll walk you through some of the paths you can take to get rid of this message and start sending messages.

5 Fixes To Message Not Sent Service Not Activated On Network

1.You Need to Refresh Your SMSC

All SMSC stands for is Short Message Service Center. When you send a standard text message, it doesn’t go straight to the phone of the person you’re texting. First, it goes to the SMSC, where it is routed automatically to the person you’re texting.

If you’re with AT&T and the person you’re sending a text to is with Verizon, your message will go to your SMSC, get rerouted to the recipient’s SMSC, then rerouted again to the recipient.

Now, we mentioned that the problems with the error message mostly affect Android users.

That’s true, but it also affects iOS users but only when using SMS, rather than Apple’s own MMS service.

Plus, Apple users can update/refresh their SMSC just like Android users, but iOS users cannot view their SMSC. Fortunately, refreshing your SMSC is the same on an iOS or Android device.

  1. Open your calling screen like you’re going to make a phone call
  2. Dial the following number: *#*#4636#*#*
  3. Instead of calling, it will open another screen
  4. Look for the SMSC option (usually under ‘Phone Information 1 or 2’)
  5. Select the ‘Refresh’ option

2. Setting Up SIM Card

This is where the MMS issue comes in and its more prominent a factor when using prepaid cards that have limited MMS capability.

It’s usually turned off by default so you don’t blow through your limited amount without realizing it. Changing it from default off isn’t as simple as entering the Settings menu either.

  1. Insert your SIM card
  2. Turn off your smartphone for five to ten seconds
  3. Turn your smartphone back on
  4. Look up at the top and see what the symbols are (Several vertical bars from high to low typically indicate you can send SMS messages
  5. Open up the Settings menu
  6. Go to WiFi
  7. Disable your WiFi so it doesn’t interrupt
  8. Open your web browser app on the smartphone
  9. Type in whatever website you want to go to
  10. If the smartphone goes to the website without a problem, you have data (if not, continue below)
  11. Open your Settings menu
  12. Select Network and Internet
  13. Select Mobile Networks
  14. Select APN (Access Point Names)
  15. Make sure all the fields are filled in
  16. If not, contact your wireless carrier

3. For Prepaid Phones, Recharge

If you’re using a prepaid phone, it’s important to understand your texting limitations before you select a plan and prepay. One of the things you need to look for in the plan is MMS messages.

If your plan doesn’t have that, you need to see if there is a way to add it or if you can select a different plan that includes MMS Sending.

4. Restart Your Smartphone

Whether you are using a Samsung, Apple, or some prepaid plan on a random smartphone, sometimes simply resetting the device is more than enough to do the trick. You don’t have to do anything especially crazy or step outside of the box here.

All you need to do is restart your phone via the standard means for doing so. As mentioned above, be sure to leave it off for five to ten seconds.

Power it back on and jump back into your text messages. Attempt to resend the original text message to the same person.

If you don’t receive the ‘Message Not Sent, Service Not Activated on Network,’ that means it worked and you’re good to go.

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5. Clear Cache

There are various reasons for periodically clearing the cache on your smartphone.

Though the ‘Message Not Sent’ error is what we are focused on today, ‘Clear Cache’ often solves many other problems—this just happens to be one of them.

Specifically, the cache in your message app is what we’re focused on and it’s fairly simple to access and delete.

  1. Open the Settings app on your smartphone
  2. Select Apps and Notifications
  3. Select App Info
  4. Select Message
  5. Select Storage
  6. Select Clear Cache
  7. Confirm

While you probably don’t have to restart your smartphone after you clear the cache, some people advise it. One thing is for sure, it won’t hurt anything. Once your phone restarts, try and send your text message like normal and see if it works.

All Things Considered

Of course, if all else fails, contact the customer service number for whichever carrier you are using. At the very least, they’ll be able to explain what the problem is or help you figure it out.

The main point is to get your phone back to where it can send texts without dealing with that aggravating error message.

Hopefully, it won’t come to that because dealing with customer service (depending on the carrier) isn’t always the most refreshing experience in the world