ERF Wireless Inc. of League City, Texas, has added First Federal Bank of Louisiana in Lake Charles as a customer for its encrypted wireless network, which aims to speed up data transfers between a bank's branches.

ERF's BranchNet system has enabled First Federal to increase efficiency in transferring information among its 14 branches and main office, said Jim Fazende, First Federal's chief operating officer, said in an interview last week.

"The real benefit of course is that the branches are now able to work quicker," he said.

The bank previously used land-line connections to move data. It also has plans to use videoconferencing to communicate with branches over the ERF network, and wants to become more reliant on paperless documents, which require significant bandwidth.

BranchNet connects the various networks tied to a bank's branches to create a single high-speed network.

In addition to paying for the physical infrastructure that powers First Federal's BranchNet, the company also pays for access to BankNet, the wireless backbone that ERF operates.

The network that ERF built for First Federal provides 280 miles of coverage between branches that are as far as 140 miles apart.