expected to make it easier for automated teller machines to share information with branches. Dallas-based Fujitsu, like its Ohio-based competitors Diebold Inc. and AT&T Global Information Solutions, will now support the communications protocol known as TCP/IP, or transmission control protocol/Internet protocol. By using this high-speed communications technology with "open architecture" characteristics, banks can connect their ATMs to branches and ultimately to host computers using a single communications line in a local area network. "Banks are going through a migration to a LAN-based environment," said Bill Witte, director of product management and development for Fujitsu. With TCP/IP, "banks can take advantage of higher speed communications, allowing them to easily update software or update graphics on all the terminals in their networks." Mr. Witte said another benefit is reduced communications costs. Fujitsu estimated that banks could save $200 to $300 a month per ATM site, or up to $15,000 monthly for a 50-machine network. "TCP/IP is the fastest-growing of all the network protocols," said Bob Landry, a technology analyst at Tower Group, a consulting firm based in Wellesley, Mass. "It is a more open standard because it is Unix-based. That's the direction the industry is taking. "This move reflects the overall trend to more open standards. Although there will not be an immediate effect, especially since few banks in the U.S. use TCP/IP, this announcement positions Fujitsu for the long term." Fujitsu said a California bank is testing TCP/IP and will go live with the protocol as its communications link this month. Currently, Fujitsu will support TCP/IP for its Series 7000 ATMs and cash dispensers. "TCP/IP is becoming the de facto standard for high-speed wide area networks," said Ron Omohundro, vice president of financial systems. The La Jolla, Calif., financial systems division of Fujitsu has obtained certification for TCP/IP from Applied Communications Inc., Omaha, which claims to be largest provider of self-service banking software worldwide. "Fujitsu is the first ATM provider to interface with our Base24 ATM software using" TCP/IP, said Karin Brown, a senior product manager at ACI. "Our customers drive over 4.6 billion ATM transactions worldwide each year," she added. "By working with Fujitsu to support this protocol, ACI can continue to offer its customers the tools they need to compete in an increasingly complex, changing global marketplace."
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