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August 26, 1999
C N R Vijaykumar
The government is the single largest consumer of personal computes and it has finally decided to make its own PCs.
The government owned Bharat Electronics Limited's joint venture, BEL Multitone, will soon roll out cheap multimedia PCs under the brand name Beltone.
BEL Multitone is a Rs 20 million company offering point-to-multipoint paging systems used mostly in large industrial complexes, hospitals and hotels.
BEL Multitone then branched into the computer motherboard business to utilise excess capacity at its manufacturing units.
General Manager U Divakaran explains that the first foray of BEL Multitone into the computer business began when BEL Multitone started offering services to upgrade computers to the latest processors, and operating systems and applications and making them Y2K compliant.
Initially, utilising the Cyrix Media based motherboards developed by BEL, the company undertook upgradation of over 2,000 PCs in BEL and made them not only Y2K compliant but also transformed them into effective machines that could tackle increasing computing requirements. This resulted in a savings of over Rs 30 million to the company, he claims.
The upgraded system offered by BEL Multitone support Internet applications also with add-on cards and the company offers post-warranty maintenance as applicable to new systems, Divakaran says.
The company is also tying up with some software companies to provide software support to its clients on a regular basis.
Divakaran says the Beltone computers would be initially marketed in metropolitan centres only.
He said the Beltone multimedia PC would have a Media GX processor at 266 MHz with onboard video and audio facility, 32 MB of SDRAM, 1.44 MB floppy disk drive, 4.3 GB hard disk drive, 14-inch colour monitor, 40 X CD-ROM drive with speakers besides other routine components.
Divakaran claims peripherals used in the computer have been sourced from internationally reputed manufacturers. BEL last year made its foray into the manufacture of Cyrix processors based motherboards and the same are being used by a number of local computer assemblers.
BEL has also started manufacturing SDRAM memory modules up to 64 MB and in the next phase it would take up for manufacturing of fax/modem cards to support Internet connectivity.
He said the MMX enhanced Media GX processor delivers advance systems features in an integrated processor solution by merging graphics, audio, memory control into the central processing unit.
The virtual system architecture developed by Cyrix is fully compatible with the software technology that replaces hardware functionality with VSA software instructions.
The new processor is transparent to all software applications and is expected to provide equivalent performance as a Pentium system at the same speed.
On the paging system business, Divakaran says the company aims to achieve a turnover of Rs 40 million this year. It has business worth Rs 10 million on hand and has already supplied systems to the tune of Rs 5 million.
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