The information highway has been expanded to a superhighway in Asheville with the opening of a high-speed networking hub.

The Education and Research Consortium of the Western Carolinas announced this week that that so-called MetaPop hub has been completed. The hub is linked to Washington DC with a high-speed OC-3 fiber connection.

Plans call for a regional backbone to be built and to be linked to a fiber ring around Asheville.

“The completion of the MetaPop and associated circuitry is a significant milestone in ERC’s objective of bringing cost-effective high-speed Internet access capability to the region,” the group said in a statement.

The Consortium has worked closely with Congressman Charles Taylor to receive funding and support for the project, which is intended to develop a high-speed Internet network for western North and South Carolina.

The ERC said a second MetaPop will be built in Greenville, SC, and that hub will be linked to Asheville through a high-speed connection.

“The Greenville-Asheville interconnection will be the first segment of a planned regional backbone servicing Western North Carolina and the Upstate of South Carolina,” the ERC said.