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inReach mini sending texts and sat lock

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  • inReach mini sending texts and sat lock

    I purchased a new mini a few weeks ago and tested it out at home before taking it in the woods, all seems OK at home. I went out on a long run this weekend and tried it out (smokey mtn national park). I actually had decent cell phone service but it took 1 hour(!) to pick up the satellite and send the message while running. I ran with the mini in my hand for about 25 minutes without locking on to a satellite. I then had the mini attached to my vest and I was mostly on a ridgeline with minimal tree cover. I sent two messages and both sent fine to emails but did not send to text.

    I have tested it at home and while it takes a long time to lock on to satellites, it always sent texts along with email notifications. It really concerns me that it took so long to lock on to a satellite in an area with decent cell phone reception. Further, why did it send emails but no texts to my preset recipients? Is this unusual or just how this thing works?

    Thanks in advance for any help!

  • #2
    Did you send the sms to a AT&T customer? At the moment there are some problems sending sms to AT&T
    In use: fenix 5x, oregon 550t


    • #3
      No, it's not "just how this thing works." There are ongoing complaints regarding a possible SMS outage. It originally appeared to be related only to recipients who use AT&T cell phone services. Now it appears (based on forum posts) that it might be more widespread. Or not. You should call support to let them know about your SMS problem.

      I am not sure what you mean by "lock onto satellites". Going to assume you mean the Iridium messaging network, not the GPS network. Unlike the GPS network, there is typically only ONE Iridium satellite visible at any given time. The orbits are low, so the visible satellite transits the sky rather quickly. As a result, conditions such as narrow valleys, high bluffs, etc. have a disproportionate affect on the ability to contact the network. In general, if it's important that a message go out quickly, you should choose a location with a good sky view and stand still until the message is sent. Your body will also block the signal if it is between the unit and the visible satellite. I would not expect good results if you are running while attempting to send.

      Note that the presence/absence of cell phone reception has nothing to do with anything - except your ability to receive an SMS that you sent to yourself.

      A bit of background might help you understand the nature of the problem here. There are a lot of moving parts when sending a message. The iR attempts to contact the Iridium satellite network. See above regarding visibility constraints. Once the message is sent to the satellite overhead, it may transit one more additional satellites (Iridium uses a mesh network) before reaching a satellite which is over a ground station. The message is then sent to the Iridium ground station, and thence to the Garmin servers. This is the point at which the message appears in your "Inbox" on the web site. At this point, the message path diverges according to the type of recipient.

      Email messages are sent to the appropriate email server via the Internet. They are then available to the recipient via the web, a mobile phone email client, or whatever.

      SMS messages are sent to an SMS gateway appropriate to the recipient's number. My understanding is that the gateways are based on geography, not on the recipient's cell phone provider. But I'm not entirely sure about that. The gateway ships the SMS message out onto the cell network. From there, the network forwards the SMS to the appropriate provider/location. Assuming the recipient's phone is on, the message is delivered at that time. Note that the path through the cell network may be complicated, particularly if the recipient is roaming.

      As you can see, the fact that the message was delivered to an email recipient indicates that it SHOULD be on the way to SMS recipients as well. But the SMS path is more complicated. Even when working correctly, it's more prone to delays that the email path.

      Note that the message status icons on your iR do not reflect end to end delivery. They reflect only whether or not the message was sent to and acknowledged by the Iridium network.
      -- Tom
      inReach SE, inReach Explorer, PN-60WSE, Colorado 400t, Nuvi 2555LMT