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A local company hopes to bring some of the fastest internet speeds in North America to every business and home in Winkler, transforming the city into a tech powerhouse.

"It's a game changer," Winkler Mayor Martin Harder says.

Valley Fiber aims to begin installing high-speed fiber-optic lines throughout the city this summer.

"What we've done so far, and the partners we have in place and the technology we're about to debut, we will very likely be the fastest ISP (Internet Service Provider) in Canada," Valley Fiber CEO Hank Wall says.

He notes only one other ISP in the U.S will offer a challenge.

In developing another local Internet provider, VISP, Wall says they've known wireless Internet has limitations.

"We realized very quickly there was a unique opportunity in the area," Wall says. "To bring the next generation of telecommunications Internet into the area."

The City of Winkler has become an early investor, offering a $500,000 boost in assistance to install fiber optic in every city building as a proof of concept.

While investing huge dollar amounts in new companies is not the norm, Harder notes in Valley Fiber's case it's an investment in the future.

"To have a private organization come here... to develop that type of infrastructure? It will be worth literally millions to all of industry and residents in the city of Winkler," Harder says. "Creating a data corridor no less important than the Trans-Canada highway."

Surplus land North of the City has also been allocated for Valley Fiber headquarters.

While Winkler is a leader in many sectors including industrial manufacturing and retail, Harder notes the region has fallen behind in the tech industry.

"This is an entirely new segment of our economic picture that not only provides excellent future jobs, it enhances every businesses' opportunity to be front and centre on the world stage competing with the best," Harder says. "There is no reason you are going to be delayed because of Internet service anymore."

The world-class data speeds and data storage centre will make Winkler an extremely attractive location for tech companies and high-tech jobs.

"We felt we had not only a responsibility but an opportunity to assist them in putting this together," Harder says.

Moving forward, Valley Fiber is seeking to raise $10 million to complete the city-wide fiber optic network. Wall notes they've held investment meetings with local business leaders and are waiting on funding announcements from both the provincial and federal governments.

"Everybody wants to see it happen," Wall says. "But it's a lot of hard work and you have to do it right."

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