I live in an area that is serviced by AT&T (Southwestern Bell doing business as). This is a rural area in North Texas near Fort Worth that has smaller holdings counted in acres or tens of acres and not generally hundreds of acres. This location is maybe 12 miles from the central office that services my land lines. Almost every time there are heavy rains or even ice or snow (remember, Texas) the phone lines go down. It takes nearly a week to get them repaired. But come the next weather event down they go. And cell phone service is not good. I can walk ten feet within my house and lose the connection with the cell tower.
AT&T expressed their disdain of Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) (analog telephone over copper pairs) about 4 years ago when they filed a request for rule making with the FCC to outlaw POTS. They compared POTS to analog television and used the reasoning that if the FCC could force the switch to digital television and relegate analog television to the garbage bin of history, the FCC could do the same for POTS. I believe it was discussed here on Slashdot. This must have been their marketing department because AT&T didn't realize the technical impact this could have in densely populated areas that have extremely high telephone usage such as skyscrapers with a few thousand people that were constantly on the phone for business. It may be that VOIP would negate the problem but they actually focused on cell phone usage.
The big telephone companies keep dreaming of having everything go over to cell or other services that have MUCH higher profit margins than POTS. If the biggies make the service bad enough they hope they can drive people off of it.