Synovus Financial Corp. has chosen Avdata Systems Inc. to design, install, and manage a new satellite and land-based communications network.

The network will enable Columbus, Ga.-based Synovus, a $5.7 billion-asset holding company, to improve sales and service, and to position itself for emerging technologies, said officials,

The network will link the company's affiliate banks with each other, and with its data processing center, Synovus Data Corp., enabling it to share information throughout the organization.

The network will replace the company's current communications setup, which links bank affiliates to the data center only. The new network will be in place by June 30, 1995.

Avdata is installing a wide area network at Synovus bank affiliates in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.

The network consists of 150 very small aperture terminals, or satellite dishes. In addition, a terrestial network based on frame relay - which sends data over phone lines at high speeds - will be set up at 30 sites in Columbus.

The satellite dishes at the affiliates will transmit data to Avdata's shared communications hub facility in Atlanta, and from there to Synovus Data.

The shared hub enables banks to save money because they can use satellite network services without having to purchase the hub themselves.

The shared hub is supplied by NEC America, an affiliate of NEC CORP. of Japan. As part of the recently formed Avdata and NEC alliance to provide satellite communications to banks, NEC will also supply all the VSAT hardware for Synovus.

The benefits of the new network will be speed, reliability, and cost efficiencies, said Michael Paolantonio, vice president and manager of platform systems for Synovus Data.

The new network will be "crucial to the success of our initiative to roll out new systems built on client-server architecture, and to permit sharing of information throughout our enterprise," he said.

Synovus' bank affiliates are being equipped with such new tools as a platform automation system, mortgage loan origination tools, and electronic mail.

The combination of the new network and platform automation applications will enable the banks to improve customer service and productivity, increase cross-selling, and reduce operating costs, said Synovus officials.

The new network also equips Synovus for rapid response to changes in the banking industry, said Mr. Paolantonio, many of which will be spurred by the growth of the information superhighway.

"We have to be ready to deliver new products and form new alliances when the customer and the business environment demands them," he explained, adding that products on the horizon may include more sophisticated remote banking services, mobile bank offices, and video conferencing.

"In short, it's a whole new ball game," he said.

Synovus chose Avdata after evaluating several network providers, said Mr. Paolantonio.

"In this business, you cannot afford to take your network - the the backbone of your operations - for granted," he said.

Atlanta-based Avdata provides communications networks to several banks including Bank South Corp., Atlanta; First Citizens Bancshares, Raleigh, N.C.; and Regions Financial Corp., Birmingham, Ala.

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