Receiving duplicate messages

Something strange happened to my phone when I was out for work in Fribourg last week.

I kept almost constantly receiving the same text messages. First when I arrived in Geneva’s airport and then once I entered Fribourg’s soil. Sender: 50. Content: GENEVA AIRPORT! GENEVA AIRPORT! GENEVA AIRPORT! FRIBOURG! FRIBOURG! FRIBOURG! FRIBOURG! NATIONS OUEST! NATIONS OUEST! NATIONS OUEST! NATIONS OUEST! Ok, I got it.


I’ve tried to restart my phone multiple times, but there was no change. It really drived me crazy up until the point that I switched off the phone because I didn’t have another choice I thought.

Fortunately I know a few things about how telecom systems operate. If your mobile phone is turned on, it sends out messages multiple times per seconds to GPS towers (and other smart phones too!) nearby. If you move, new connections are established and old ones disconnected. All of this data are relevant to the carrier as they may want to know where you are located at specific points in time. Actually this is how the police would be able to track you based on your IMEI numer too.

As I was in the train mostly and on the move, I think the data got lost somehow and my position became very unreliable for the carrier, which was Swisscom. The messages showed up with a very high frequency then. On the other hand, when I was in the hotel in Fribourg there was a high frequency of duplicate text messages too. So I’m not sure if this is a good explanation.

There’s an option on Android that allow you to enable or disable the receipt of Cell Broadcast messages. I thought that would fix the problem. It did for the carrier messages, but when I returned back to the airport and I had my check-in requested from the Brussel Airlines Customer Service, the same story unravelled.


I’m quite sure the problem is network related as it is gone now that I’m back on Proximus. But what is the root cause? The weak signal strength perhaps or is it related to the software on my HTC One itself? Or a combination of the two maybe? I came across an interesting forum topic on the same.


2 thoughts on “Receiving duplicate messages”

  1. It is problem of signal only. if server not received any ACK of you recived message or not, till then server retry to send your message in particular time ACK. Main problem is traffic if traffic is present and server not receive ACK from your side ,server send again and again.
    We should not stop this service because there is chance where you can miss you IMP message.

  2. Thanks Preeti! I wonder why you didn’t choose a career as network engineer. What was that good book you read again? 🙂

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