Avdata Systems Inc., a provider of private satellite data networks to banks in the Southcast, has formed an alliance with NEC America Inc. to provide VSAT-type satellite communications to banks nationwide.

Avdata, based in Atlanta, will install and operate NEC's Nextar dish antennas for financial institutions. NEC America is a Melville, N.Y.-based affiliate of NEC Corp., Tokyo.

The companies will also build shared-hub facilities across the country that banks can use to communicate with their branches.

Current Customers

Avdata provides VSAT networks (the acronym stands-for "very small aperature terminal") for a number of financial institutions in the Southeast. These include Regions Financial Corp., Birmingham, Ala.; Bank South, Atlanta; Trans Financial Bank, Bowling Green, Ky.; Farmers Capital Bank, Frankfort; and First Citizens Bank of North Carolina, Raleigh.

The company plans to expand its service by partnering with banks around the country interested in the shared-hub concept, said Roger Hornstra, Avdata account manager. The facilities are to be completed over the next two years, and the company anticipates starting in the fourth quarter, he said.

The satellite network and shared-hub facilities will bring cost savings and flexibility to banks, particularly those with locations in many states, said Mr. Hornstra.

By installing a communications hub at a main location and VSATs at branches, a bank can bypass the regular phone network for point-to-point communication. A bank that doesn't want to purchase a hub can link up to one of Avdata's sharedhub facilities to communicate with branches.

Cost Advantage Seen

Satellite communication has several benefits over land lines, said Mr. Hornstra.

It can be less expensive, since prices are based on a fixed charge, rather than distance. Proximity to shared hubs will also reduce customer transmission costs, he said.

Flexibility is another benefit, Mr. Hornstra added, since VSAT Sites can be installed within 24 hours, enabling banks to bring new branches and automated teller machines on-line quickly.

There are 100,000 VSAT dishes in place throughout the 'United States. The banking and retailing industries axe among the heaviest users of satellite networks.

VSAT banking applications support ATM transactions, teller operations, bank security, and local branch services, such as mortgage lending.

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