The government said it would encourage the expansion of super fast broadband by allowing operators to use other companies' infrastructure to roll out new fibre optic networks.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt also announced he would accept proposals by media regulator Ofcom to relax local cross-media ownership rules, allowing local newspapers to own local commercial radio stations and set up local television stations.

The government, which is searching for ways to reduce Britain's record peacetime budget deficit, said funding set aside for pilot regional news services would instead be used to support plans to roll out super fast broadband.

In a speech, Hunt said it was a scandal that nearly 3 million households in Britain still could not access 2 Megabits per second broadband speeds.

Rolling out super fast broadband was about creating a platform on which a whole generation of new businesses could thrive, he said.

He said the government was committed to ensuring a universal service level of 2 Megabits per second as a minimum.

Hunt announced three market testing projects that would bring super fast broadband to rural areas. But he said the biggest cost in rolling out new fibre optic networks was digging up the roads.

"Cut these costs and, straight away, investing in super fast broadband becomes a substantially more attractive proposition. That's why I want companies to be able to take advantage of the infrastructure that already exists -- the ducts and poles of telecoms companies, the sewers and other utility networks," he said.

Ofcom had already proposed opening access to telecommunications firm BT Group Plc's infrastructure to promote further investment and BT had been positive towards the idea, Hunt said.

"If legislation is necessary to require other infrastructure providers to open up their assets as well, then... I am ready to bring it to [parliament] as soon as parliamentary time can be found," he said.