(WGHP) — We learned during the COVID pandemic that too many people in North Carolina don’t have reliable internet access.

Students had trouble accessing online learning, and adults had difficulty working from home. Now, a new announcement could help change that.

Governor Roy Cooper visited Mebane Wednesday afternoon to announce more than $200 million will go to high-speed internet access in North Carolina.

Nearly 85,000 households and more than 2,400 businesses in 69 counties are one step closer to a reliable internet connection,

It’s the state’s largest round of grant funds to date.

“I believe this is going to be a game changer,” said Albert Oldenburg, who recently received affordable high-speed internet access.

More than a million people in NC don’t have access to high-speed internet.

“We got about 1.2 million people on the wrong side of the digital divide,” Cooper said.

It’s needed for working from home, learning remotely and even visiting a doctor.

It’s what helped Oldenburg land a job four months ago after he fell on hard times during the pandemic and started receiving government assistance.

“I got a letter from Spectrum saying I could get internet access. Since I was already receiving social services, I signed up for it,” Oldenburg said. “I didn’t have to pay for installation fees or equipment. I was able to get internet access to get a job.”

Now thanks to a $206 million Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology Grant, others just like Oldenburg will also get the same opportunities.

“I know of so many people who could use that internet access right now,” he said.

“The good things that came out of this pandemic is…it was shining a big light on challenges we already faced,” Cooper said.

The governor acknowledged that providing high-speed internet access for the state is something he’s been wanting to do, but the resources weren’t there up until now.

“When this pandemic came, there was significant investment by the state and federal government, and now we actually have the funds to connect everybody in NC with high-speed internet. That’s something to celebrate,” Cooper said. “This is a big day.”

State leaders are also pushing the Affordable Connectivity Program.

Federal funds will help qualifying families connect to the internet for $30 monthly.

“We’re encouraging all the internet service providers to offer a plan that’s $30 a month but that could also be $30 to go towards a more expansive plan to help a family afford it,” Cooper said.

The goal is to have 90% access connection by the end of 2025. Next year, extra funds from President Biden will also help with the project,

All phases are expected to be completed for everyone by 2027.