AT&T's satellite communications division announced last week that it has signed a multiyear, multimillion dollar contract with the Russian Savings Bank to provide a data-communications link between the bank's far-flung branches and its Moscow-based data center.

The firm, AT&T Tridom, has also signed a cooperative agreement with the bank's network integrator, the Special Research Bureau of the Moscow Institute of Power Engineering to adapt its Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) network to operate with Russian communications satellites already in orbit.

"Our purchase of the AT&T Tridom hardware and software system is a further demonstration of our commitment to the introduction of information technology in our organization," said Y.A. Bobyliev, vice president of the Russian Savings Bank.

"The creation of a new communication system will enable us to provide a significant range of new banking services to our customers."

The contract calls for installation to begin in February and 79 of the bank's branches to be on-line by yearend 1995.

The plan calls for the network to eventually extend to include more than 1,200 branches throughout Russia. The Russian Savings Bank is the largest retail bank in the former Soviet Union with 31,182 branches across the country and more than 150 million consumer accounts. Before the breakup of the Soviet Union, it was the only savings bank in the country, serving the entire population with approximately 220 million accounts.

The Special Research Bureau will manage the VSAT hub and network as well as install and maintain the remote VSAT stations.

"Reliable data communications are especially critical in a rapidly growing economy like Russia's," said Eileen McNamara-Raisch, president and chief executive officer of AT&T Tridom. "VSAT systems are the ideal solution in these cases because they can be installed quickly and operated more economically than a fixed wire-based systems."

The agreement was facilitated through the British company Amadeus Research, which performed market research for the organizations to determine the bank's technological needs.

Konstantin Pobedonostev, director of the Special Research Bureau, said the technology would complement the organization's use of satellite and wireless communications products and services.

Marietta, Ga.-based AT&T Tridom, the wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T Corp., develops and markets multifunctional, satellite technology for firms with global communications needs.

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