T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T – the three largest US mobile carriers – have all confirmed that The edge that they are not blocking Apple’s new iCloud Private Relay feature, after reports that some customers had problems with the VPN-like feature.
AT&T and Verizon honestly say they are not blocking the feature. Verizon spokesman George L. Koroneos confirms that Private Relay works on both cellular and Fios internet connections, and AT&T spokesman Seth Bloom says the carrier’s policy is not to block Private Relay.
T-Mobile’s situation is a bit more complex: most customers should have no problems with iCloud Private Relay. But those who use content filtering services (like the carrier’s Family Controls) can’t use iCloud Private Relay, the carrier tells us.
“Customers who have opted for plans and features with content filtering (e.g. parental controls) will not be able to access iCloud Private Relay for these services to work as intended. All other customers have no restrictions,” said T-Mobile spokesman Bennet Ladyman The edge. That matches Apple’s posts surrounding the feature, noting that “networks that require the ability to monitor traffic or perform network-based filtering will block access to Private Relay.”
The T-Mobile spokesperson also said: The edge that the carrier did found an issue with Apple’s recent iOS 15.2 update that caused iCloud Private Relay to be disabled after the update. “Overnight, our team found that in the iOS 15.2 release, some device settings are defaulted to the feature being disabled. We shared this with Apple, which is not specific to T-Mobile.”
If the problem is really on Apple’s side, it could also explain the issues some Verizon or AT&T customers may have experienced after the update.
That said, carriers may want to support Apple’s privacy feature in the future. The Telegraph reports that Vodafone, Telefonica, Orange and T-Mobile have all signed a joint letter asking the European Commission to block Private Relay, arguing that the feature “prohibits other networks and servers from accessing vital network data and metadata, including those operators responsible for connectivity.”
Similar to a VPN in many ways, iCloud Private Relay works automatically to mask your internet traffic from Apple, your ISP, and anyone trying to snoop around what you’re doing online. The feature is still in beta, but it’s currently available to anyone who subscribes to a paid iCloud plan — though Apple isn’t keeping it enabled by default, at least for now. There are other limitations, too: Private Relay doesn’t allow you to spoof your internet as coming from outside your rough geographic area (a popular use for VPNs to get around national or regional content limits), and it only works in Apple’s own Safari browser.