Infrastructure investment company International Public Partnerships announced on Monday that it had committed jointly with HM Government to make an investment in digital infrastructure - particularly fibre optic broadband connections.
The FTSE 250 company said it saw "long term parallels" between the essential nature of broadband connectivity to the home and workplace, and the established businesses of gas and electricity distribution and transmission with which it was already experienced.
It said the investment would be made through a co-investment vehicle, into which INPP committed up to £45m and the government committed up to £150m.
The co-investment vehicle had been established as part of the UK Government's 'Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund' initiative, being launched on Monday by Exchequer Minister Andrew Jones MP at a conference in Peterborough.
It said the co-investment vehicle was established following a competitive process run by the government, seeking investment commitment and investment management advice to establish broadband infrastructure investment platforms.
The co-investment vehicle had been named the National Digital Infrastructure Fund (NDIF), which would seek out investment opportunities in businesses and projects that own and build digital fibre-based network assets and related infrastructure.
The involvement of the government was to support its policy of boosting the deployment of full-fibre connections and ultrafast broadband access across the UK, the board explained.
Under the terms of procurement, the company's investment adviser Amber Infrastructure had been appointed to provide investment management services to NDIF and would receive a base fee - and in certain circumstances a performance fee - from NDIF for those services.
"Digital infrastructure is an exciting new asset class," said INPP chairman Rupert Dorey.
"Fibre broadband connections are likely to become essential infrastructure assets in the future. We believe that this commitment offers an early entry point for the company into a sector with clear lineage to the long-term, stable, inflation linked returns of our utility-network assets."
Dorey said INPP would "once again" benefit from first mover advantage, taking a "strong" defensive position in an "attractive" asset class.
"This investment also reinforces the company's position as a trusted and preferred investment partner to the public sector."