(KTEN) — Oklahoma's USDA Rural Development Office has announced more than $85 million in grants and loans to bring high-speed internet to rural and tribal areas across the state.

"We need high-speed internet at an affordable cost," said Randi Baker. "I work from home, so high-speed internet is very important to me."

The investments will improve internet access for businesses, farmers, and schools in rural Oklahoma.

"There is a guy here in town who is always hit-or-miss on his internet service, so there aren't a whole lot of options outside of Ringling when you get out of town, because you don't have AT&T, and there is basically one option or you pay a lot more," said resident Larry Thompson.

More than seven million dollars of those funds will be used in Jefferson County and the Chickasaw tribal area.

"It would be really good to have more options than there are right now," Thompson said. "We only have a few, and some of them are really expensive."

Terral Telephone Company and other grant recipients will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the FCC's connectivity program.

"You can't do much of anything without internet service," said Thompson. "It's necessary to survive nowadays."

Oklahoma's USDA Rural Development Director, Kenneth Corn said the grant will help bridge the digital divide in rural Oklahoma and tribal areas.

“High-speed internet investment is vital to ensure we can grow and provide our businesses, banking, schooling, and
healthcare sectors a much-needed boost to small-town Main Streets and tribal communities
across the Sooner State," Corn said. "Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, USDA is committed to making sure that people, no matter where they live, have access to highspeed internet. As the Biden-Harris Administration continues to demonstrate, that’s how you
grow the economy – not just in rural communities, but across the nation.” 

The more than $85 million investment comes from the third funding round of the Reconnect Program.