What does ‘this number is temporarily out of service’ mean?

The first thing you expect when calling a number is the ringtone, meaning a service provider connects you to the user. But sometimes, the user may have switched off their phone, and you will get a voice message asking you to leave a voicemail.

However, in other cases, you call a user, and the first thing you hear is this number is temporarily out of service. What does that mean?

When the number you have dialed is temporarily out of service, it could mean many things. However, the most common reason is that your number is not connecting to the carrier’s network. This means you cannot reach the person you want to call.

Note: When a number is temporarily out of service, it does not always mean that your service provider has blocked it.

Why is your number temporarily out of service?

Your phone number is temporarily out of service because of the following reasons:

1. Your phone is in Airplane mode

Airplane mode
Image: Sten Ritterfeld

When you enable airplane mode on your phone, it cannot connect to a cellular network. That also includes Wi-Fi, hotspot, Bluetooth, and mobile data.

Your number cannot make or receive calls, send text messages, or surf the internet. And when somebody calls the number, they will hear the message – this number is temporarily out of service.

2. The network coverage is poor

Poor network coverage is a common reason a phone number is temporarily out of service. The issue mostly happens when the number you call is in a signal blackspot.

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In other words, the geographic area within which the phone is located is experiencing reduced mobile phone signal because it is far away from the nearest cell tower.

As a result, you will experience different issues, including call drop-outs or noise during calls. And if the phone cannot get any signal, your SIM will be temporarily out of service.

In other cases, your number can be temporarily out of service because of a network glitch. Therefore, normal services will only resume if your carrier fixes the glitch.

3. The SIM card has expired

A phone with a SIM card
Image by: Silvie

Typically, SIM cards remain active for at least 60 days when not in use, depending on the carrier. After 60 days, the number becomes inactive.

However, most telecom companies offer a grace period of between 30 and 60 days. The grace period allows you to top up the number to prevent the SIM card from expiring.

If you do not top up the number, your SIM card will expire and prevent you from making or receiving calls, including emergency calls. Thus, your phone will be temporarily out of service until you contact your carrier for further assistance.

4. Your carrier has blocked the number

Your mobile carrier can block your number because of several reasons. For example, they can block it from accessing the cellular network if you have reported your phone lost or stolen and requested them to block it.

They can also block it to prevent fraud or fraudulent people from activating and using the number. If you have not registered your number, as a requirement, the company will block it until you register.

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Once your carrier blocks your number from the network, it cannot make or receive calls. And if a person calls, they will hear that the number is temporarily out of service. 

5. Your SIM card has a registration error

Phone SIM
Image: freepik

You may notice that although you have used your SIM card for a while, your phone shows a ‘SIM card registration failed’ error message.

The issue happens when your device cannot successfully read the data from the SIM card. Therefore, it cannot communicate with your mobile or cellular network.

A SIM card error can occur if there is physical damage to it or you drop your phone. Now, since the phone cannot read the data from your SIM card to communicate with your carrier, the number will be temporarily out of service until you fix it.

You can fix it by replacing the SIM card or registering your number.

6. Your carrier has deactivated the number

You can terminate your service with a mobile carrier as a mobile subscriber. You can also transfer your number to a different cellular carrier.

Therefore, your carrier will deactivate your number and make it temporarily out of service. After a while, your carrier can make the number available if it recycles it and assigns it to a new subscriber.

Can you make your phone number temporarily out of service?

You have limitations for making your number temporarily out of service. However, you can achieve this by doing the following.

  • Enable airplane mode on your phone.
  • Ask your carrier to block the number temporarily.
  • Avoid topping up your number for at least 60 days.
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You can also visit an area with poor cellular coverage to make it temporarily out of service.

a woman on phone
Image: taylor_grote

Can you view a list of out-of-service numbers?

In some jurisdictions, cellular carriers provide copies of deactivation reports. The purpose is to help subscribers clean up their lists.

Typically, the report contains a list of phone numbers the carriers have deactivated on their networks. Therefore, the only way to view a list of out-of-service numbers is to contact your mobile carrier.

Is your phone number back in service?

So, what does it mean when a  number is temporarily out of service? Ideally, your number is not connecting to the carrier’s network.

The cause of the problem could be poor network coverage, an expired SIM card, a deactivated number, or a SIM card registration error.

Also, if you enable airplane mode on your phone, the device will not connect to the cellular network, thus making your number temporarily out of service.

Finally, if your carrier has blocked your number to prevent fraud, it will temporarily be out of service.

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