How to disable mobile data while roaming with EU Internet

During a recent trip to Italy I inadvertently discovered that my operator’s customer service is clueless and that iOS devices have an off switch for mobile data called “EU Internet”. Arguably, I should have known the former, but the latter was a little revelation.

Whilst my operator’s customer service was asking me whether I was sure that I had coverage, or checking that the post code of my residential address is where I was currently located, or whether the iPad that I was using was one of theirs, I started playing around.

In short, enable EU Internet and you loose your internet access. This is a nice example of where the user interface tells you one thing, but what actually happens is exactly the inverse.

To figure this out, notice that the iPhone does not show you, much less allow you to edit, the APN that it uses to access the cellular data network.
Settings menu iPad Mini


Settings menu iPhone 6 Plus

So why is this relevant? Well, it turns out that the iPhone hides the fact that it is messing with the APN it uses to access the mobile data network. But you can see what happens on the iPad.

EU Internet On: Bad APN
EU Internet Off: Good APN

It would seem that enabling EU Internet changes the APN to something that is not recognized by most operators in Europe, effectively disabling data traffic.

What is odd, is that this seems to be a known issue: Apple Support Communities – EU Internet Bug

So why would my operator try to remotely update my SIM cards, reboot my iDevices, or challenge me that this can’t work because I don’t have a device simlocked to their network, or that I was somewhere that I don’t have coverage? *shrug*