Update (01/11/22 12:13 pm): T-Mobile has released a statement to XDA Developers regarding the issue.
“Customers who chose plans and features with content filtering (e.g. parent controls) do not have access to the iCloud Private Relay to allow these services to work as designed. All other customers have no restrictions.”
The original article follows.
Apple recently released a new privacy feature in iOS 15. The feature, called Private Relay, was first revealed at WWDC in June 2021 and was slated to be included in the latest iOS update. But it looks like T-Mobile is starting to block this feature.
And T-Mobile is not alone in this, at least not in Europe. In the UK, the other carriers that have already blocked Private Relay include T-Mobile, EE, and some others. In the US, however, T-Mobile/Sprint is the first to block access to the feature when users are connected to cellular data.
So what is Private Relay and why is T-Mobile blocking it? According to Apple, Private Relay is a feature intended to give a secondary layer of privacy when users browse the web. 9to5Mac says that “the first relay is sent through a server maintained by Apple.” Meanwhile, the second is maintained by a third-party operator. In this case, it is T-Mobile and Sprint.
Together with the European carriers, T-Mobile signed an open letter where they expressed their concerns about how Private Relay impacted their services. The carriers shared that their networks and servers are being cut off by the feature from accessing “vital network data and metadata and could impact operator’s ability to efficiently manage telecommunication networks.”
The feature was rolled out as a “public beta,” which means it is disabled by default in the latest iOS 15 and macOS Monterey updates. But you can opt to activate the feature by going to Settings and tapping your name on top > choose iCloud > Private Relay.
If you are a T-Mobile or Sprint user, you won’t be able to use the new iCloud feature when you’re connected to cellular data. You’ll see an error message on your Settings app that reads:
“Your cellular plan doesn’t support iCloud Private Relay. With Private Relay turned off, this network can monitor your internet activity, and your IP address is not hidden from known trackers or websites.”
As of this writing, only a handful of users are affected by this change. Some users may still be able to use the feature, which suggests that T-Mo is in the middle of rolling out the change. Meanwhile, Apple has not yet commented on the issue. We’ll wait for an update from the company.