Why will my phone not register the correct time in western South Dakota?

Whenever I travel to the western side of South Dakota, my phone (Galaxy S8 on Sprint) almost always reports the time as central time. Western SD is in the mountain time zone, about 125 miles from the nearest central TZ line. Sprint does not have a presence in that part of SD (indeed, their network covers only about 2.5% of SD), so I am most often on roaming. Phones for people who live there are fine, so it’s not a tower issue, per se. Of course, they aren’t on Sprint, either.

about 5% of the time it shows correctly as mountain time, the rest it shows central. I can’t rely on my phone for an alarm or for getting to meetings. What could cause this?

Just to add, I had the same problem in Western Nebraska but sometimes it was off two hours. I think that between the time code from the cell tower and the inner OS of the cell phone there is a misinterpretation somewhere.

Go into your settings and search for “roaming clock.” Is it set to Central time?

I don’t see why having the wrong time zone would affect your alarms. On every modern calendar app I’ve used, when I set an event, it stores the time and time zone of the event. If a meeting is scheduled for 10am PDT, when it’s one minute before the event the phone may think it’s 9:59 PDT or 10:59 MDT, but it either way it knows that the event will occur in one minute.

It’s your phones way of telling you that western South Dakota is a terrible place to be…

Your phone seems to be aware of our plans to acquire Baja Saskatchewan.

Oops, I’ve said too much!

Not my iPhone. I’m in LA and I often have calls with people in NY; calendar invites from NY sometimes wind up in ET, not PT. No clear pattern to when this happens.

That must be an Apple “feature”. Google Calendar works correctly. I can even set an event (like a plane flight) with a start time in one time zone and an end time in another time zone, and it all works.

Another Apple calendar feature: crashing and rebooting repeatedly due to the switch to daylight savings time.

It is remarkably hard to get programmers to stop making basic assumptions like “every day is 24 hours long”. Saw this over and over when I taught Software Engineering.

Two issues here:

  1. Wake up alarm. The clock on my phone randomly switches between mountain and central time, so I can’t trust that the wake up alarm will go off at the right time, and
  2. Meeting schedule is on Outlook, our corporate calendaring software, not Google calendar. The calendar is set to show me eastern and mountain times, but if I can’t trust the time on the phone I still don’t know if I am an hour early.

It’s not a user setting in the phone itself, because sometimes it shows mountain time. I seriously doubt it’s pinging off a Sprint tower on the central time zone since that is over 100 miles away. It’s got to be a tower issue, I just can’t figure out what the issue may be.

Reminds me of that old blog post “Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Time