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Collaborate Ultra Capabilities in China

Date Published: Feb 11,2020


CategoryProduct:Ultra Experience; Version:Ultra Experience
Article No.: 000051972

Type:
Support Bulletin

Product:
Collaborate - Ultra Experience


Bulletin/Advisory Information:

Updated: February 11, 2020
We have conducted some exploratory tests with users from major tier 1 and tier 2 cities within China to better understand what the user experience might look like for Collaborate Ultra users in China.  We tested using the top three telecommunication carriers in China, namely China Unicom, China Mobile and China Telecom.

In our experience, both China Unicom and China Mobile performed well, with only some users occasionally being disconnected/reconnected from the session.  China Telecom did not perform well, as multiple users encountered session connectivity issues throughout the session.

These testing results are not exhaustive and should not be interpreted as guaranteed compatibility of Collaborate Ultra in China.  Experiences will vary depending on a number of factors, including personal Internet connection, bandwidth, network connectivity and firewall settings.  Please see the Bandwidth section below for more information.

Collaborate Ultra Capabilities in China
We have had many clients inquire about Collaborate Ultra capabilities in China as institutions take precautions and increase their online teaching presence via Collaborate in response to Novel Coronavirus.  We want to address some of the common questions in this article, particularly around the Chinese government firewall and connectivity from within China.

Collaborate Ultra is not blocked by the firewall (at least not at this time). However, using Collaborate in China has generally had results with varying degrees of success, ranging from a completely acceptable experience to calls dropping video and audio quality or frequently dropping and reconnecting, to not being able to connect at all. 
 
The biggest issue with regards to using Collaborate from China has been the historically poor / inconsistent quality (high latency & lack of bandwidth) Internet connection in China.

Please be sure students and instructors in China are using a hardwired Ethernet LAN connection. Using WiFi will only contribute to the latency/bandwidth issues. Generally we always recommend a hardwired connection over WiFi just due to the nature of WiFi.

Browsers
Browsers may also be a factor.  Chrome is not downloadable in China and not all Chinese browsers support WebRTC nor is Blackboard testing any Chinese browsers with Collaborate Ultra at this time. Firefox is usually downloadable at this time and supports WebRTC. The main stable channel release of Firefox is tested and certified by Blackboard. Please see https://help.blackboard.com/Collaborate/Ultra/Participant/Get_Started/Browser_Support for more info.

Bandwidth
The below links provide details about how Collaborate manages network bandwidth and the indicators that users will see.
Class Sizes
The maximum size of a Collaborate Ultra session is 250 users.  If clients are requiring sessions in excess of 250 users (up to a maximum of 500 users), please request a large session by opening a support case on Behind the Blackboard.  Please be aware that there are limitations on capability in large sessions and that there are limitations on the number of large sessions per region (one large session per data center at any time).  

The following page contains information on large sessions capabilities as well as instructions on how to request a large session.
https://blackboard.secure.force.com/publickbarticleview?id=kA739000000Cd4V&homepage=true.


If you are using a supported browser and experience connectivity issues using Collaborate Ultra in China, we encourage you to please open a case on Behind the Blackboard.  Please note that if the issue is found to be network or environment related, as described above, we may not able to provide a resolution.



The information contained in the Knowledge Base was written and/or verified by Blackboard Support. It is approved for client use. Nothing in the Knowledge Base shall be deemed to modify your license in any way to any Blackboard product. If you have comments, questions, or concerns, please send an email to kb@blackboard.com. © 2020 Blackboard Inc. All rights reserved