Intel, ATandT Partner on Remote Help Desk for PCs

AT&T last year launched its Tech Support 360 service, which offers remote tech support for everything from PCs and laptops to Wi-Fi networks. Starting next year, AT&T's service will support Intel's vPro feature, which enables remote technicians to access the PC even if the operating system has failed. Intel and AT&T officials say the new capability will bring high-end remote tech support to SMBs.

Intel and AT&T are teaming up to give SMBs the same level of remote PC tech support as their larger brethren.

The two companies announced Sept. 17 that AT&T's Tech Support 360 help desk offering will support Intel's vPro remote management technology for desktops and laptops.

AT&T launched the Tech Support 360 initiative in the fall of 2008, and officials said more than 100,000 small businesses have since bought it. The company in the second half of 2010 will bring support for vPro, which includes the RPAT (Remote PC Assist Technology) feature. vPro is essentially a bundle of features that make for easier for businesses to manage and secure a fleet of PCs.

RPAT enables SMBs that are having PC problems to hit a keystroke sequence on a down computer, connecting that PC directly to a technician via an encrypted connection over the Internet.

The capability will enable SMBs to save the money that normally would have been spent on experts coming to the business from the outside.

"As a result of the current economic conditions, small businesses are even more focused on controlling costs," David Tuhy, general manager in Intel's Business Client Group, said in a statement.

AT&T's service offers around-the-clock support that includes setup, configuration, troubleshooting and performance optimization for everything from desktops and notebooks to Wi-Fi networks and network devices, such as smartphones.

With the Intel support, technicians will be able to access the PC even if its operating system has failed.

Intel updated vPro in November 2008, giving it the ability to enable technicians to remotely access the desktop or laptop even if it's outside the company firewall. Another enhancement was the RPAT feature.