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FYI: iOS and APNs...

CalgaryBen
Deputy Mayor / Adjoint au Maire

I often see posts telling iPhone users to set the APN in order to get cellular data working properly.  Generally speaking, this is not applicable (and often not possible!) because the APN (amongst other settings) are established by a configuration file that gets downloaded to the phone (you can see this under Settings --> General --> About --> Carrier, where the profile should be something like Public Mobile xx.x).

 

Furthermore, most/all(?) carriers in North America hide the options to change APNs from the user.  This is a carrier option established by the carrier profile.  Any online references to changing/customizing APNs through the UI usually come from other international sources (e.g. UK), where carriers don't seem to hide/lock settings down.  The only APN setting that typically can be changed on an iPhone is the Personal Hotspot APN for tethering, but users are often confused into thinking that's the APN they're setting for their phone's data.

 

Often, users encounter a Catch-22 for getting the Public Mobile xx.x configuration file during activation because this configures the APN so they can get a data connection, and without a data connection, they can't get this file.  This is particularly common for activations at a store, etc.  If you activate at home (or at a store), hopefully you'll have access to a WiFi access point, and you can download the configuration file that way.

 

It's a bit different on iPads, where the APN can be set.  Carrier profiles usually don't lock down the setting like on phones.  So, instructions on setting the APN are applicable for iPads, and if I remember correctly, it typically does need to be manually set before cellular data will work, at least on Public Mobile.  Incidentally, cellular-enabled iPads (annoyingly) do not support cellular SMS or MMS, so these settings are moot/not applicable on iPads.  (And before anyone comes to correct me -- this is different from message forwarding from an iPhone, where messages are sync'd between iOS devices through the AppleID.)

 

On older phones (iPhone 4 and older, which run iOS 7 and lower), the APN and other settings were hard-coded in the OS, and the phone did a look-up based on the country/network of the SIM card that's inserted.  That's why inserting an encumbant carrier's SIM card (e.g. Telus or Rogers) into these will typically "just work", but newer/smaller ones (PM) won't.  That's where the unlockit.co.nz site comes in handy (see my next post).  Unlockit installs a network profile onto the phone (typically installed by corporate IT departments for VPN, or by carriers for customizations to override built-in settings) to configure the APN.  Unfortunately, it doesn't configure the settings needed for MMS (not sure if it just doesn't, or can't), so MMS will never work for iPhone 4 and older on PM, unless the user can do the leg work of jailbreaking and patching of configuration files (probably more work than it's worth, given that better phones are readily available cheaply, even for their kids, parents, etc.!)

29 REPLIES 29

CalgaryBen
Deputy Mayor / Adjoint au Maire

@bowsandbrowns wrote:

Im also trying to chg the APN setting on a iphone 4 and find no Profile in my general settings, any suggestions or is does it evon need to change from the current telus setting.


If you can confirm that you're using an iPhone 4 (and you've updated the iOS to 7.2.1), then please review this post (second message in this thread), which walks you through setting the APN using a network configuration profile from unlockit.co.nz.  The Carrier showing TELUS 16.0 (I'm guessing) under Settings -> General -> About would be confirmation that the device is trying to use the default hard-coded profile for TELUS (iOS 7 and lower did not have OTA upgradeable carrier profiles).

bowsandbrowns
Good Citizen / Bon Citoyen

thanks a million Ben, i think it is all working now...

CalgaryBen
Deputy Mayor / Adjoint au Maire

I often hear/read: "I've checked and double-checked that I've entered the APN correctly in my iPhone!".  To that, I quite simply respond: "No you didn't!!"  Or, not quite... let me explain...

 

As you'll learn from the first post in this thread, you can't enter the APN used by the iPhone itself for cellular data -- this is set by the Carrier Profile (for iOS 8 and up).  For iOS 7.2.1 and lower, it was hard-coded in the iOS, and over-ridden using a network configuration profile provided by unlockit.co.nz (detailed in the second post of this thread).

 

What you can/did set is probably the Personal Hotspot APN.  This is the APN used to obtain an IP address for cellular data connectivity of tethered devices (i.e. devices connected to the iPhone via USB or WiFi, and using the iPhone's cellular data).  This is different from the APN used to obtain an IP address for cellular data connectivity of the iPhone itself.

 

For an iPhone 4, this creates an interesting scenario -- the iPhone 4 itself may not have cellular data (unless you get the network profile from unlockit.co.nz as detailed in this post), but it can provide a Personal Hotspot for other devices to use cellular data!  The default Personal Hotspot APN (Settings -> Cellular -> Cellular Data -> PERSONAL HOTSPOT / APN) of isp.telus.com needs to be changed to sp.mb.com.

 

For newer iPhones, the Personal Hotspot APN is found/set via  Settings -> Cellular -> Cellular Data Network -> PERSONAL HOTSPOT / APN.  For anyone thinking this is a stupid place for this setting -- that it should be under Settings -> Cellular -> Personal Hotspot -- I agree!  But, it is what it is.  The default value (shows up if you tap on "Reset Settings") of isp.mb.com doesn't work ("tethered" devices won't get an IP address)!!!  You'll want to set it to sp.mb.com.

 

If you're wondering why there are two APNs (one for the iPhone itself, and another for tethering)... this is to allow the iPhone to use a "regular" APN to get a private IP address, while tethered devices can optionally use a different data connection.  This isn't applicable in the world of Public Mobile.  But for TELUS, as an example, there are scenarios where the iPhone just needs regular access (APN=isp.telus.com or sp.telus.com) but tethered devices need a public IP address, perhaps even an static public IP address; in those scenarios the Personal Hotspot APN might be staticipwest.telus.com or staticipeast.telus.com, or another one established by the carrier for the particular customer application.  But that's why it's user changeable.  Unfortunately, this leads to a lot of confusion...

 

Hope that all makes sense!

danie_ditz
Good Citizen / Bon Citoyen

For anyone who has tried EVERYTHING - just like I did - every thread on here and elsewhere - to get iOS data working, I tried the last resort: I contacted the mod team directly and explained everything I tried. They then tried a few things to troubleshoot on their end, but to no avail. I then asked very nicely if they would please give me a small credit so I could go to an iPhone store to get them to fix it with that credit money. They kindly did so. So if you try absolutely everything, don't hesitate to contact them and get your data working!


@danie_ditz wrote:

For anyone who has tried EVERYTHING - just like I did - every thread on here and elsewhere - to get iOS data working, I tried the last resort: I contacted the mod team directly and explained everything I tried. They then tried a few things to troubleshoot on their end, but to no avail. I then asked very nicely if they would please give me a small credit so I could go to an iPhone store to get them to fix it with that credit money. They kindly did so. So if you try absolutely everything, don't hesitate to contact them and get your data working!


So did an iPhone store actually figure it out and get your data going?

@danie_ditz, I'm confused. You used PM account credit at an Apple Store?

srlawren
Retired Oracle / Oracle Retraité

@sheytoon wrote:

@danie_ditz, I'm confused. You used PM account credit at an Apple Store?


@sheytoon yeah the whole story sounds a bit odd, why PM would credit someone to go get their phone fixed.  I'm assuming they didn't literally use PM account credit at an apple store, but rather just used it as an offset--in other words, they spent $X at Apple Store out of pocket, but now have an $Y credit on their PM account which means their next renewal will be $Y cheaper.  If Y > X they are ahead, and if X > Y well at least they are only out of pocket X-Y for the repair.  


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SDB
Good Citizen / Bon Citoyen

I have the latest software and my network says Public Mobile but under Carrier it says Telus 36.0.1. How do I change that?

CalgaryBen
Deputy Mayor / Adjoint au Maire

@SDB wrote:

I have the latest software and my network says Public Mobile but under Carrier it says Telus 36.0.1. How do I change that?


@SDB you need to connect to WiFi with internet access, and then force the update via Settings --> General --> Software Update.  Chances are you haven't had data access since switching from Telus to Public Mobile, so your iPhone is in a Catch-22... no data to update profile, but can't get data to update profile without a current profile.

Hi @CalgaryBen I just read this thread and I am in awe.  I don't have an iPhone and am not technical at all, but I read your amazing posts sharing your iPhone knowledge and I understood them (ok I think I did lol)  This thread should be called "The Complete Moron's Guide to IOS and APN".

 

You sir, @CalgaryBen, are awesome.  I would like to say "I'm a fan!" but you don't know me and you might think I'm a stalker or something, so I won't. 😊

 

Thank you for sharing your iPhone knowledge.  Stay safe!  

 

RosieR