J.P. Morgan & Co. said it has signed a four-year, $3 million contract to use a new communications technology to move data between personal computers in 13 of its U.S. offices.

J.P. Morgan will receive "frame relay" service from Compuserve Inc., Columbus, Ohio, a unit of H&R Block, Five offices are using the technology, and eight others are expected to start using frame relay by yearend. The contract is the latest move in J.P. Morgan's plan to outsource telecommunications operations to vendors.

The bank started started down this road in January, when it contracted with British Telecommunications PLC to run a portion of its international network. But that contract calls for J.P. Morgan to use older "packet switching" technology, instead of frame relay.

Frame relay is believed to move data more efficiently than previous technologies. It is said to be particularly well-suited to sending data between networks of personal computers, an operation called "LAN internetworking."

Major telecommunications vendors began selling frame re lay a couple of years ago. But only a handful of companies have bought the technology.

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