Over the past few weeks, there have been reports by users of EE, T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T that they have not been able to enable iCloud Private Relay on their devices.
Since the issue began gaining public attention multiple carriers have now confirmed that they are not blocking iCloud Private Relay. However, some of these carriers including Vodafone and T-Mobile signed an open letter voicing their opposition to the feature. The networks claimed that iCloud Private Relay prevents the mobile networks from collecting “vital network data and metadata”.
It appears the issue that some users were facing was that the feature had simply been disabled in the Cellular Settings and the feature was not necessarily blocked by the carrier as the message in iOS suggested.
Before the latest iOS 15.3 beta 2, a message has been on display that states:
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.
Now in iOS 15.3 Beta 2 Apple has updated the message to add a section mentioning that the feature may have been turned off in Cellular Settings. The message now says:
“Private Relay is turned off for your cellular plan. Private Relay is either not supported by your cellular plan or has been turned off in Cellular Settings. With Private Relay turned off, this network can monitor your internet activity, and your IP address is not hidden from known trackers or websites.”
If the network is not blocking iCloud Private Relay, users should check that the ‘Limit IP Address Tracking’ option is enabled under Cellular Settings.
iCloud Private Relay works in a similar way to a VPN – in simple terms, it prevents any mobile network or ISP from seeing the browsing data of its customers. The biggest difference from a VPN in this situation however is: iCloud Private Relay will likely have mass adoption since it does not require much effort at all from any users wishing to use it (like a VPN would).
“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.”
UK mobile network EE has also confirmed on Twitter that they do not block iCloud Private Relay:
"Hey Gethin, lovely to hear from you and thanks for your patience today. EE don't block the use of iCloud Private Relay but there are a couple of things that can impact it working. I'd like to run through some checks with you if I can, can you pop me over a DM – Ann-marie"
EE also has a page on its community forums detailing how to use iCloud Private Relay. Additionally, Verizon and AT&T claim that they do not block iCloud Private Relay, so it appears to be only T-Mobile who have confirmed that certain plans may not be able to use the feature.