Phone Keeps Ringing, and There Is No Voicemail: Meaning?

This is what it means when you call a phone, it rings, but there is no voicemail.

You called someone, and they didn’t answer, but instead of voicemail, you hear an endless ringing?

So if you want to know what it means when you call someone, and there is no voicemail, then you’re in the right place.

Keep reading!

Table of Contents

What Does it Mean When the Phone Keeps Ringing, and There Is No Voicemail?

Usually, when you call someone, it’s because you want to talk right away. 

You have something important to say or discuss, and that’s why you didn’t send a text or an email or something through social media. That’s why it’s really annoying when no one answers, but it can be even worse. 

Sometimes, the phone just rings endlessly, and on top of no one answering, it never goes to voicemail either. You can’t leave a message or try to get them to call you back. You’re left in the same place you started.

Why does this happen?

The Gist of the Issue

Realistically, there are a lot of things that can cause eternal ringing when you call someone. So rather than go through a long, technical list, we can first summarize the most frequent reasons for this to happen.

In essence, a phone will just keep ringing for one of two reasons. There could be a problem with the connection, or there is nothing there to stop the ringing. 

Sad man talking on a phone while alone on a street.

The first is an error, while the second is actually working as intended. We’ll go through the most common scenarios relating to each cause.

There Is a Problem With Switching

Phone lines are built on lots and lots of switches—even the digital lines. Because the network is involved, there are a lot of potential points where a line can fail to switch correctly. When this happens, the lines never truly connect. 

Since your two lines don’t fully connect, you get default ringing, but the line can never be answered or moved over to voicemail. It’s just endless ringing.

This can occur at many points, but usually, it will fail at one end of the line. If you get endless ringing no matter who you call, there is a problem with your phone line connecting to the rest of the network, and you need to get help from your carrier or provider. If it only happens when calling a specific number, the problem is on their end.

To highlight that switching can happen in a number of ways, we can look at a common problem that involves voicemail. When you call someone and get their voicemail, the connection had to switch from their phone line to the voicemail server at some point. It’s entirely possible for that switch to be the point of failure, and the phone rings forever.

Voicemail Is Unavailable

There’s another issue that involves voicemail but is not a switching error. This happens when there is no voicemail available.

The most obvious example is old landlines and analog phones. With these lines, if there is no answering machine (or other line disruption), you can call, and the phone will ring forever unless someone picks up on the other end. Anyone old enough to remember has experienced this, but the experience is a lot less common in today’s digital world.

Even with digital lines, you can run into a version of this problem. It’s possible to have a digital line where no voicemail or answering service is set up. In those cases, there is nowhere to redirect the call after the recipient fails to answer, so it continues to ring indefinitely.

This is really the crux of the endless ringing problem. There has to be something to disrupt the call in order to make the ringing stop. That can happen when someone answers or when a service or feature kicks in to take over. If those features aren’t available, then the phone has to keep ringing.

Some Features Are Failing

We’ve already covered voicemail, but there are other phone services and features that can impact answering and cause this ringing problem. 

A common example is called waiting. Essentially, call waiting works when you call a line that is active. You will hear ringing, and the call recipient will get an alert that someone is calling.

But, they don’t have to answer. If they don’t, the call will theoretically go to voicemail or another answering service. Call waiting complicates that interaction, and it can prevent the system from ever switching to voicemail. While this can be a switching issue, as described earlier, it can also be a different technical problem that involves the call waiting system.

Any feature that disrupts a call connection can have similar problems. That can include voice to text, party calling, call encryptions, and many more services that are too numerous to list here. If a call service seems to be tied to the ringing problem, the best solution is to work with the service provider to troubleshoot and resolve the issue.

You Are Just on Hold

It seems obvious, but this is worth mentioning. Sometimes, you call a business, and it rings forever. This usually means that you’re on hold.

Teenager looking at her watch while talking on the phone, pink background.

While most businesses will use a hold pattern that doesn’t just ring forever (instead of playing a song you don’t want to hear or answering questions you never asked), this isn’t always the case. 

There are simpler hold options that are used by many small businesses, and they don’t interrupt endless ringing with anything else. Some of these features will give you silence between ringing patterns while others just ring and ring and ring.

Assuming the business is currently staffed, someone will eventually answer, but there’s an important thing to remember. You might hear ringing, but they probably don’t. You shouldn’t assume that the endless ringing will annoy them into submission. You might have to wait a while.

It’s a Matter of Random Error

It can be frustrating, but phone lines really are a complicated system—especially when they involve digital signaling. There are a ton of things that can go wrong, and the cause cannot always be isolated. It’s chalked up to a random error in a big system.

If you get the ringing issue for a number that usually works just fine, hang up and call again. This will let you know if it’s a random issue or a persistent problem. If the call goes through the second time, chalk it up to randomness. If not, then you’ll have to consider the other issues above.

While it can be annoying to deal with random connection errors, it’s important to remember that they are common. More often than not, persistent ringing will be related to a temporary issue rather than a long-term problem.