Huntington National Finishes Satellite-Technology Testing
Tucker, Tracey, American Banker
Huntington National Bank, in conjunction with Ohio University, has completed testing, with good results, an advanced satellite technology for possible use in disaster recovery and other data-communications applications.
The test, which ran from October 1993 to June of this year, was conducted using the Advanced Communications Technology Satellite, released into orbit last September by the shuttle Discovery.
The bank and the university worked with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, which manages the satellite, to test satellite transmission of financial data, such as deposits, account balances, and funds transfers, in the event of a failure of telephone lines.
Huntington successfully connected two sites in Ohio - its data center in Columbus and its regional center in Parma - using satellite dishes of the type known as very small aperture terminals. Data were rerouted from regular phone lines to the satellite dishes, simulating the events that would take place during an actual failure of the phone lines.
According to Michael Whetstone, manager of data communications at Huntington, the experiment determined that satellite connections could meet the network's restoral requirements with minimal time and loss to a bank.
Mr. Whetstone said the bank could install a satellite dish in a couple of hours and have an entire regional center back up and running. This speed is a big benefit over disaster-recovery plans based on the regular phone lines the bank now uses, he said.
Other Uses Possible
Mr. Whetstone added that satellite communications may have other applications for Huntington, particularly as the bank continues to expand its operations. The bank, the principal subsidiary of Huntington Bancshares a $16.5 billion-asset regional holding company based in Columbus, already operates a number of remote mortgage companies up and down the East Coast.
And, although it primarily operates in the Midwest, it is engaged in buying banks in other areas, such as the South. Satellite communications becomes a viable technology for linking such sites over a wide-area network, said Mr. Whetstone. New banks will be able to be brought on line quickly using satellite technology as opposed to terrestrial lines, he said.
The Huntington experiment is the first in a series of projects that will continue over the next two years with a variety of industries, said Don Flournoy, a professor of telecommunications at Ohio University in Athens. …