N+I: Lucent to expand Web-based tech support

Looking to boost its online customer support offerings, Lucent Technologies is set to expand its Web-based support services to enable features such as online chats with technical personnel pertaining to all the company's products.

The company's upgraded program, to be called eSight, will be announced at the NetWorld+Interop (N+I) conference in Atlanta later this month and rolled out in October, according to a Lucent source who requested anonymity.

"What this is, is full services and support over the Web," according to the Lucent source. Lucent's phone-based NetCare services will be deployed over the Web under eSight, and will be available to its customers. The service will support, among applications, live chats with technical personnel who could instantaneously forward files to chat participants, or live Webcasts with engineers on products, as well as education and training.

At least initially, Lucent will not be selling anything via the Web site, the name of which has not yet been released. Varying levels of service are expected to be made available to customers, according to the Lucent source.

The eSight plan is an expansion of Ascend On-line Services, started in 1998 by the former Ascend Communications, which provides support for Ascend products. Lucent acquired Ascend earlier this year.

It may take a year or more before support for all Lucent products is available on eSight, but the company ultimately may support other vendors' products as well, according to the source.

Lucent joins a number of other industry leaders in moving some of their support services online. Dell Computer last month announced its E-Support Direct program, a collection of services and products for internet-based technical support. Components of the program include an internet-based systems management and support software solution, an online help desk, and an order-tracking system.

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