Feeds

AT&T juices PC rescue service with Intel's Fast Call for Help

vPro versus humans

Top three mobile application threats

Intel and AT&T are cuddling up to provide remote help-desk support for small and midsized businesses.

That is, if those companies' laptops and desktops support Intel's vPro hardware-assisted remote management and security technology - here's Intel's list of those that currently do.

The service, announced yesterday and scheduled for the first half of 2010, enhances AT&T's existing Tech Support 360 subscription offering, which is currently based on desktop-sharing technology. More than 100,000 small US businesses have signed up for this service since its launch last fall.

The collaboration will use Intel's Remote PC Assist Technology (RPAT), a feature of vPro, to establish an encrypted link between a remote Tech Support 360 technician and the failed PC, even if the PC has suffered a hardware, OS, or network failure, or has been corrupted by a virus or other malware.

According to a presentation provided to reporters, RPAT will be initiated by end-users - not an in-house help-desk technicians - who enter a "Fast Call For Help" key combination. Intel recommends CTL+ALT+F1, but notes that the combination must be enabled by hardware OEMs.

We can see you

That "Fast Call For Help" will, of course, only be able of value if the remote AT&T's Tech Support technician can reach the affected PC. However, as explained to The Reg by an Intel spokeswoman, even if a subscriber's system has corrupt drivers or network config settings, vPro and RPAT's redundant set of network/config settings will allow the tech to access and repair the computer via the internet.

In other words, even if you can't see out, Tech Support 360 should still be able to see in - so long as your broadband connection is up and running.

And Intel claims that even pre-Tech Support 360 vPro case studies have shown that remote diagnosis and repair can reduce the average time needed to repair hardware by up to 60 per cent and software by up to 50, and can reduce average system downtime by up to 32 per cent.

AT&T says that its vPro-enabled Tech Support 360 will allow a remote technician remove viruses and malware "more effectively" and also resolve and configure BIOS issues, reset a user's system password, and repair or update network card drivers.

Should the enhanced Tech Support 360 service work as envisioned, the benefits - depending, of course, on what AT&T charges for it - will be self-evident: reduced operating-expense costs for help-desk personnel, shorter downtimes, and fewer pack-it-up-and-drop-it-off trips to repair shops for ailing PCs.

Drawbacks are also evident. For one, reduced help-desk staff will find themselves spending less quiet time on workbenches repairing recalcitrant hardware and more time tutoring technically clueless keyboard jockeys on the nuances of Microsoft Exchange.

And then, of course, there's that poor help-desk technician who finds himself on the street, made redundant by vPro and Tech Support 360. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Sorry London, Europe's top tech city is Munich
New 'Atlas of ICT Activity' finds innovation isn't happening at Silicon Roundabout
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.