Have you ever encountered an error message saying that “Cellular Network is Not Available for Voice Calls” ? If yes, then you’ve some to the right place to get an explanation and reasons for such an error message, and also some easy ways to fix the error.
These days, the advanced features offered by modern smartphones and other cellular-connected devices continue to advance.
They’ve come so far that plenty of people forget that, at their heart, these devices are still phones.
However, today’s cellular networks don’t handle voice calls in the same way that they handle internet traffic.
And now that the vast majority of cellular network operators have phased out 3G and earlier cellular technologies, the differences are becoming more apparent to users.
One visible sign of this is the increasing prevalence of the “cellular network not available for voice calls” error message popping up on users’ phones.
When you see this message, your phone won’t be capable of placing voice calls, although it may sometimes still receive them.
Worse still, this confusing message can appear for a variety of reasons, even when other functions on your phone or device continue to work.
Here’s everything you need to know about this increasingly common error message, including the reasons it can happen and how you can fix it.
Causes of “Cellular Network Not Available for Voice Calls” Error
The “cellular network not available for voice calls” error message is a catch-all error message that indicates a failure in your phone’s voice calling function.
It can result from network problems, software issues, and a variety of other conditions—some beyond the control of end users. Here are the most common reasons you might see this message.
VoLTE Is Turned Off
Ever since the major cellular network operators started decommissioning their older 3G and 2G network hardware, they’ve had to change the way they handle voice calls.
Previously, when a carrier’s primary network—typically 4G—couldn’t handle a voice call, connected devices would default back to a 2G or 3G connection to complete their call.
The reason for this is the fact that 4G and newer networks have the capability to carry voice call traffic as voice over IP (VoIP) data rather than as generic data bound for a standard circuit-switched telephone network.
This is what VoLTE actually does. The Voice over LTE technology sends and receives voice traffic over the data network (i.e over IP).
VoIP data is treated much the same as standard internet traffic, with one major exception—the priority given to its transmission.
On 4G and newer networks, normal data gets a flag that instructs the network to make its best effort to transmit it in a reasonable timeframe.
VoIP traffic, by contrast, gets a flag marking it as needing real-time (or as close to it as possible) transmission.
The thing is, however, that your phone needs to know that you want to use VoLTE rather than trying to rely on the now-decommissioned voice-only networks.
This is accomplished via a feature known as Voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE).
So, when you see the “cellular network not available for voice calls” error message, it may be telling you that VoLTE is disabled on your phone and there are no 2G or 3G networks to fall back to.
Since VoIP traffic requires real-time data to function, you may also see a “cellular network not available for voice calls” error message when there’s network congestion.
It’s a common occurrence in places with inadequate 4G or 5G coverage. It’s also common during large events where huge numbers of users are attempting to transmit cellular data simultaneously.
For example, if you are in a stadium for a sports event with thousands of other people, the 4G or 5G voice channels available in the area might get exhausted, so you don’t have available channels for communicating over the cellular network.
In that case, the error is telling you that your provider’s network is too overwhelmed to support voice transmission.
SIM Card Issues
Another reason you might see the “cellular network not available for voice calls” message is a problem with your phone’s SIM card.
Your phone’s Subscriber Identity Module, or SIM card, contains identifying information that lets your provider’s cellular network know who you are.
It’s how cellular networks determine who’s allowed to connect and who is not. It’s also how cellular networks impose usage restrictions based on your cellular plan.
If your phone’s SIM card malfunctions, or isn’t quite inserted correctly, it can impact your network connectivity.
In some cases, this can result in your phone thinking that you’re not authorized to use your provider’s network. Or, it might authorize you to transmit regular-priority data but not real-time VoIP traffic, much like a mobile hotspot device might.
Carrier Outage Issues
Finally, you may see a “cellular network not available for voice calls” message on your phone if your cellular network provider is experiencing network issues.
In this case, the problem lies not with your phone but with some other part of the cellular infrastructure.
The good news is that a simple call to your cellular provider should let you know if this is your problem.
In most cases, the provider will spot the signs of network issues before they begin impacting customers.
Therefore, they may already know there are problems impacting service and will notify their customer service team so they can relay the information to you.
How To Fix the Error
Since there are multiple reasons why you might see such a cell phone error on your phone, there’s no single solution to the problem.
However, here are some troubleshooting steps you can try to resolve your issue.
The first thing you should check is your phone’s VoLTE setting. If it is turned off, it could be the reason you’re seeing the error message.
If you’re unsure where to find the setting on your specific phone, you may need to consult your user’s guide, contact your phone’s manufacturer, or ask your cellular provider. Here are some general steps that may work for you:
On Apple Devices:
- Open the Settings menu and then open the Cellular submenu
- Select Cellular Data Options followed by Voice & Data
- Look for an option that allows you to Set VoLTE to On
On Android Devices:
- Open the Settings menu, followed by the Connections or Network submenu
- Open the Voice Networks submenu
- Look for an option that allows you to Set VoLTE to On
Restart Your Phone
If your phone already has VoLTE enabled or doesn’t have a setting for it, the next thing you can try is a phone restart.
Like all computers, phones occasionally benefit from a restart, which loads their operating software from scratch.
It’s an excellent way to solve transient issues that result from software glitches. On some phones, it’s even possible to schedule regular restarts at a time you choose or when your phone isn’t in use.
For better phone hygiene, it’s a good idea to take advantage of this feature, even if a restart doesn’t solve your “cellular network not available for voice calls” error issue.
Check Your SIM Card
If you still own a phone or other device that uses a physical SIM card, the next troubleshooting step you can try is to reseat your SIM card.
To so do, you’ll need to turn off your device and locate its SIM card tray. On some devices, the SIM card shares a tray with your flash memory card and is spring-loaded for easy removal.
On others, the SIM card tray requires a removal tool that you insert into a small hole next to the tray. If you don’t have the tool, you can often use a paper clip or pin to trigger the ejection mechanism.
Once you have your SIM card tray removed, check that your SIM card isn’t misaligned and sits flat inside the tray. You can remove it and reinsert it into the tray to be sure.
There should only be one proper way to insert the card, so there’s little chance of making any mistakes.
Once you’ve got the SIM card reseated in its tray, you can reinsert the tray into your device and power it back on. Then, try placing a voice call to see if the error message persists.
Check for Network Congestion
Next, you can try to see if network congestion is the reason you’re getting the “cellular network not available for voice calls” error.
Unfortunately, doing so isn’t an exact science since network congestion can cause a variety of symptoms—not all of which might occur at the same time. However, the telltale signs are:
- Slow or fluctuating internet data transfer speeds
- Difficulty sending and receiving SMS and MMS messages
- Dropped or failed calls (when you aren’t getting the error message)
If your phone or device has any of these symptoms, network congestion could be the cause of your error message.
If so, you only have two options. You can wait for network conditions to improve, after which the error message should go away.
Or, you could relocate to another area and see if it solves your problem. If you’re in a city, moving about half a mile should connect you to a different cellular tower and may solve your problem.
In more rural areas, you might need to go as far as two miles away to connect to a different cellular tower.
Contact Your Carrier
If all else fails, you can contact your cellular carrier to find out if your cellular network error is the result of a known issue.
Your carrier may tell you that they’re working on a network problem and give you an ETA for a solution. If so, all you can do is wait for them to complete their work. Afterward, the error message might go away on its own.
If your carrier doesn’t know of a network problem, they may ask you to bring your device into one of their locations for service.
Sometimes, a new SIM card or a forced software update is the only solution to this pesky error message when nothing else has solved the problem for you.
Here are the support phone numbers of some major cell phone providers in the USA:
1. Verizon Wireless: 1-800-922-0204
2. AT&T Mobility: 1-800-331-0500
3. T-Mobile: 1-800-937-8997
4. Sprint (now part of T-Mobile): 1-888-211-4727
5. US Cellular: 1-888-944-9400
6. Cricket Wireless: 1-800-274-2538
7. Boost Mobile: 1-888-266-7848
8. Metro by T-Mobile: 1-888-863-8768
9. Tracfone: 1-800-867-7183
10. Consumer Cellular: 1-888-345-5509
Please note that these numbers are subject to change, so it’s always a good idea to visit the respective cell phone provider’s official website for the most up-to-date contact information.
The Bottom Line
Now you know all of the main reasons why your phone might display a “cellular network not available for voice calls” message.
With some luck, one of the solutions listed here will help you resolve the issue.
But if not, at least you know that you’ve tried all of the known troubleshooting steps to solve the problem yourself. Then, you’ll need to rely on your cellular provider to help you further.