Although cell phone and internet service can be spotty on Saskatchewan First Nations, about $17 million is being spent to try to improve that, it was announced Friday.

The money to bring high-speed internet and cellular service to 26 First Nations will come from provincially owned SaskTel and the federal Indian Affairs Department.

The reserves currently have internet access, but it's the slow, dial-up kind.

Nineteen of the First Nations will be getting cell phone coverage for the first time.

The upgrades will help businesses, improve access to health care and government services and will provide more opportunities for youth, said Felix Thomas, chief of the Saskatoon Tribal Council.

"It helps with building our societies, our First Nation societies because it puts us on a level playing field," Thomas said. "It gives us equality to mainstream opportunities."

The tribal council will have an administrative role in the upgrade, officials said.

The work will be done over the next three years, with a completion date of Dec. 31, 2012. Officials say these are the final 26 First Nations in the province to get high-speed internet.