Hewlett-Packard has launched a multi-vendor network telephone support service designed to meet the LAN support needs of small and medium-sized businesses. The innovative HP LAN SupportPack comes as an 'off-the-shelf' packaged box available from resellers, offers support for both Microsoft and Novell based networks and is a 'per incident' based product. Despite a relatively high price tag - $3,472 for the five-incident pack and $6,544 for the 10-incident pack - telephone support on a 'per incident' basis is more convenient and cost effective than conventional long-term support contracts. Each package comes with a disk containing registration forms and a phone card with an activated PIN-based password. Packages expire within one year of registration. When a problem occurs with their LAN, customers call HP and the problem is diagnosed. If it is not, and extra off-line research is required, the call is still considered as one incident. Unlike a few years ago when computers were mostly used for word processing, today's PCs are used for mission-critical computing. That makes small and medium-sized businesses highly vulnerable as they are unable to afford the same levels of IT support as large companies and sometimes do not have any LAN administrator at all. Many companies that use network equipment from different vendors on the same site have experienced vendors pointing the finger at each other for network problems, and often have no choice but to use the service of independent consultants who charge expensive fees without guaranteed results. 'The packages were designed to resolve PC-based LAN problems quickly, affordably and effectively,' Alan Chau, HP country software support manager, said. On average, HP is able to solve 80 per cent of phone problems in less than 20 minutes. Support staff are all certified engineers and have access to advanced technology and tools such as an Internet-based knowledge database. Moreover, the support offered by HP LAN SupportPack is multi-vendor. It covers Microsoft and Novell operating systems and network operating systems, together with hardware from most leading vendors. HP is now the only Microsoft and Novell authorised service centre in Hong Kong. LAN SupportPack is available through re-sellers as a conceptual, easy to sell package. HP planned this service to provide resellers and network integrators with an easy way to complement their own support services, without additional overheads.