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My phone is working normally and network connection is fine. While trying to send an SMS, I get a notification for 'Error 38: Unable to send sms'. The message remains unsent after multiple attempts.

(1) There is no detectable interruption in network; I can use internet services, make calls and even receive SMS.

(2) This is not an account balance issue.

(3) Toggling between networks (2G/3G) does not help. Sometimes the issue resolves after a while.

(4) My network is Airtel (India), handset is Xiaomi A1.

Could someone help me understand what could be happening and how I can avoid/resolve this issue?

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    I too have the same device and carrier and never faced this problem. Try clearing the cache of SMS app, if it doesn't help clear data (make sure to take backup). If this doesn't help try using another SMS app. BTW the SMS app that came bundled with the device has some other issues I faced and switched to Textra – beeshyams Dec 16 '18 at 13:37
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    @beeshyams - thanks, it seems to be resolved now, and should it happen again I'll try clearing cache. Still trying to understand what could be happening and how to avoid if possible... – user153812 Dec 16 '18 at 16:00
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This is because your outgoing service is barred by your service provider. If you are from India then moat of the service providers here stop the services if recharges are not done in proper interval as per companies policy.

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1) Remove another message application e.g Truecaller etc. Successfully solved smsc(sort message sercice code error ) solve. Error code 38.

2) try the ##4636## write in phone and open popped menu select phone option -show the smsc block in write cellular company smsc number and click update. Get smsc number in service center then to receive the smsc number.

Thank you

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