VPN connection dies after a few minutes on LTE (iPhone SE)




    No one at T-Mobile has been able to help me so far, either in store, on the phone, or elsewhere. I am describing my situation in great detail and keywords, so as to help others facing similar difficulty, so excuse the length. I'm trying to help you help me, because my job depends on my ability to securely transmit encrypted data intended solely for its legal recipient. Besides, I know I'm not the only one who is having VPN trouble.


    I've noticed T-Mobile is quick to decline assistance in other services or apps; however, through my own tests, I have been able to determine the problem only occurs when I am using T-Mobile's mobile network and must therefore be addressed through T-Mobile. And because the people on the phone and web chat can only "apologize for that one," I am forced to come here for answers from people who actually understand the nuance of this issue.


    A brief description of my problem:


    I connect to my VPN, use it for a few minutes without problems, and then it stops working. The connection shows all systems are normal, everything is green and connected (and with full bars, no less!) but my connections time out and fail to load. Emails do not send until I disable the VPN service, and then all my notifications flood in at the instant I disable it.


    Tests I have run:


    1) This did not happen when I was on AT&T, prior to switching to T-Mobile using the same phone

    2) This only happens when attempting to use T-Mobile's LTE/4G network

    3) This connection problem does not happen on wi-fi. The VPN behaves normally until I disconnect from wi-fi and the phone kicks back over to my mobile network

    4) My VPN works in all other situations and devices, and never stutters or fails (I am also using one of the largest, most reputable leading VPN carriers in the world)

    5) I factory reset my phone, to no avail. The problem remains exactly the same

    6) I have set up the VPN manually, using the three major protocols, all with the same outcome

    7) I turned on airplane mode for 10 seconds, and turned it off again. While this gets VPN working immediately, it does not solve the problem of VPN failure after two minutes.

    8) I restarted the device

    9) I turned data roaming off, and back on again as that did not help either


    Afterthoughts, possible explanations and conclusions:


    An agent who attempted to help me suggested maybe T-Mobile doesn't want people using VPNs on their networks, either because it hinders their ability to track and sell my data to third parties, or because T-Mobile doesn't want people concealing their "hotspot" traffic, thereby circumventing throttling rules. That just sounds like a conspiracy to me, but at this juncture, we could both be wrong. He has a point, though, as money is all the motivation any company needs to implement hidden anti-consumer policies. Again, I'm not saying that person is right or wrong, but he and I are both relatively uneducated when it comes to the inner workings of cellphone networks, so of course we are prone to believing conspiracy theories in that area! I do hope he's wrong and there is a fix for this technical problem.



    I've seen complaints of carrier update 28.3 breaking VPN traffic, because of IPV4-only apps not yet ready for an entirely IPV6 world. If there is any veracity to this claim - that is, if my problem is related to my VPN using IPV4 and the LTE network switching exclusively to IPV6 - then why would my VPN still work for two to four minutes, before dying? I saw similar complaints regarding the iOS 10 update, but that does not perfectly match my problem. It looks the same, but it's fundamentally different.


    Just a side note and follow-up question:

    Interestingly enough, my lock screen notifications appear, and contain the contents of the message, but when I swipe the notification to open the program, the content does not load in. It will not load until I disable the VPN, or switch the phone into airplane mode, and back off again, forcing the VPN to reconnect on demand (Connect On demand). Could it be that this content loads in on the regular LTE network, but my actual interfacing with the apps fails through VPN? If that were the case, then it breaks my understanding of what "Connect on Demand" means, or a failure on Apple's part to respect the importance of Connect on Demand. In any case, I would love a solution to this problem!

      All replies

      • timmytonga

        Oh, and I've also tried switching servers. Can anyone from T-Mobile confirm whether IPV4 VPNs are being blocked by the network?


        I contacted my VPN carrier, who agreed that I have run every possible test, and they agree that the problem exists on T-Mobile's end.



        • This is a fact that VPN is temporarily broken on 10.3.1.  The next update should bring back that functionality.

          • tmo_amanda

            Hey, timmytonga!


            Hmmm. Do you happen to know what transfer protocol your VPN uses? Is it PPTP? If so, you may want to have your VPN provider take a look at this.

              • tmo_marissa

                Hey there! I just wanted to reach out and see if the link Amanda provided was applicable here. Were you able to find out a little bit about the VPN protocol and determine if that caused the snag here. How is everything going?


                - Marissa

                  • timmytonga

                    Hello Marissa,


                    No. As I said in item 6 of my checklist, I have already tried using separate protocols, none of which work on your network. To be more specific, I tried IKEv2, L2TP, and PPTP.


                    It worked fine on AT&T's network last month, but now that I have switched to your network, it no longer works. It has not worked since the day I left AT&T and moved to T-Mobile.


                    So I was hoping you guys could tell me something, like why it worked on AT&T but not T-Mobile. Since that's the only change I've made, I'm left with one major question: what is different about the way you operate your network, and the way AT&T runs theirs?


                    Do your shareholders disapprove of VPN? Do you perceive VPN as unnecessary for mobile users? This is a serious concern.

                      • timmytonga

                        I attempted to edit my previous response with more details, but received errors, and must therefore add a second reply (see my first response above):


                        Moreover, I was using VPN on iOS 10 through AT&T's mobile network until the very moment I handed my phone over to a T-Mobile agent, who switched my SIM cards out and sent me on my way. Before I handed off my phone, I recall watching YouTube through VPN while waiting for the mall to open. I was also Skyping with contacts in Brazil. Then the T-Mobile store opened, and your guy switched my phone over to T-Mobile. And although it stopped working that very moment, I gave T-Mobile the benefit of the doubt, and assumed maybe AT&T gives you guys second-class service on their towers. I was prepared for second-class service, including accepting the possibility my phone stopped working because I was getting poor reception indoors... when, in fact, this phone has not functioned properly since joining T-Mobile.

                          • tmo_marissa

                            Yowza. So, my understanding of VPN is limited to the knowledge I've gleaned from this forum, as we typically support it in dedicated Business Care (and as such I've never had the opportunity to learn much about it). I don't use it myself on my phone, although I do connect my laptop to my V10's hotspot to use VPN on the laptop -- but the inner workings of it are still pretty mysterious to me.  I can't really speak to the perception of VPN from a shareholder perspective or the intricacies of AT&T's network (we certainly have some users in the Community who are typically able to discuss network differences with experience, though I'm not sure if they'd know about the differences as they pertain to VPN).

                            I checked in with my colleague tmo_chris on this because he'd already reached out to our Apple contact when assisting on another thread - Carrier Update 28.3 Breaks VPNs. From what I understand at this point, attempting the other connections you mentioned as they're noted in the article from Apple support; L2TP/IPSec and IKEv2/IPSec, is the best thing to try. If you've already done as much without luck, then the issue may be more related to IPV4 vs IPV6 -- though we can't explain why an IPV4 VPN would connect for a few moments before booting you. We do know that while this is specific to the most recent carrier update, this is an Apple initiative that we are helping them support and the configuring of internet protocols is a bit out of our scope. You may have better luck working directly with your VPN provider and Apple, if you're able to consult with them! I know this isn't the type of answer you were looking for, but we'll continue to pass along information and report back if we find out more!


                            - Marissa

                    • magenta1460441

                      I'm experiencing identical problems, since approximately April 30, 2017. I've used the same VNP for approximately one year and half without any problems. The connection was always stable and reliable. I'm using on iphone 6s, with the latest updates. Two weeks ago, it became impossible to connect while using the cellular network on 4g or LTE. Interestingly, on May 7, 2017, I was able to enjoy a stable connection for five days until  May 12.


                      I've tried every possible solution without success. I also wrote a message to tmobile and only received a brief response. My ability to use a vpn is essential and vital to my work as I'm a human rights worker advising other human rights workers in Latin America. The use of the vpn is absolutely necessary to protect and maintain the privacy of our communications. I've been with tmobile for many many years, but if they cannot allow me to maintain the privacy of my cellphone communications I will have to look for other options.

                        • tmo_marissa

                          Hey, magenta1460441. Thank you for adding your feedback -- your work sounds incredibly important and I'm sorry if these changes have interrupted it. We're at a loss as to how the connection worked for a few days and then stopped again, that's definitely confusing. Is it safe to assume you're also using an iPhone? Do you know if your VPN connects over IPV4 or IPV6? You mentioned reaching out previously -- can I ask how you contacted us and what type of response you received? Thank you for any information you can provide -- I realize that if your situation is identical to the one outlined in the original post here or those of our customers in the other thread I linked to above, then asking these questions may seem silly, but I'd rather be safe than sorry!


                          - Marissa

                          • timmytonga

                            Good LUCK. Everyone is passing the blame, but the fact is, this issue

                            is the result of collusion between T-Mobile and Apple to create an

                            IPV6-only LTE network. And they play dumb like they don't understand how their castration of ipv4 could possibly cause problems. Because EVERYONE is chomping at the bit to move whole platforms to the leaky and complex ipv6, right? No.


                            It's like, since net neutrality is being

                            upheld, this is their second-best alternative to locking smaller

                            businesses out of the marketplace, including our VPN carriers.


                            The answer is: Wait until your VPN carrier adapts its whole network to

                            IPV6. Mine is going to take a few months to make this change. What

                            about yours, who are you with?


                            It's embarrassing they aren't being more open in their responses, but I am

                            with you on this. If you want to discuss this further between

                            ourselves, I am actually doing a news article on it right now.


                            Good luck,