To improve the speed of service at teller windows and automated teller machines, Summit Bank has enlisted Bell Atlantic Corp. to install high- capacity data networks at the bank's branches.

Under a five-year contract, Philadelphia-based Bell Atlantic will completely overhaul and integrate Summit's three networks and replace them with one designed by Bell Atlantic Network Integration, a subsidiary that handles network design, installation, and management.

The Summit, N.J., bank will use a transmission technology known as frame relay, which is good at handling high-speed data over wide area networks. The technology can also be used to support such high-bandwidth applications as imaging, bulk file transfers, and transaction processing.

The bank's upgraded communications network is expected to speed transactions among employees at various locations, according to bank officials.

"We have a very visible service enterprise, and the complex data networks that support our organization are an integral component of our operation," said Jack Wendell, vice president of information services administration at the subsidiary of $5.5 billion-asset Summit Bancorp.

It chose Bell Atlantic, which is also supplying management and support services, "because of the high degree of engineering and technical expertise within their organization," Mr. Wendell said.

Like Summit, a number of large banks are working with telecommunications companies to upgrade and manage their networks.

Some, such as Citicorp, are consolidating diverse communications networks onto central, high-speed services such as frame relay or fiber optics. The new technologies let the banks handle an increasing volume of data applications, such as computer processing and communications among bank sites.

Summit's networks will link employees at its 90 locations, giving them access to data bases with quicker response times, said officials at Bell Atlantic.

For example, with existing networks using modems and basic phone lines, transmitting a customer's loan information file from the appropriate Summit data base takes up to 14 minutes. The same information transmitted on the frame relay infrastructure will run up to seven times faster, said Bell officials.

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