They've gotta be better than Verizon ... Verizon has the same strategy here in the PNW as they do in New England: invest in providing FTTH to a portion of their territory, and not even provide basic DSL to the rest. Even other ILEC's are better at deploying widely (e.g., Qwest seems to do much better in lower-density areas in their territory), but VZ has focussed their broadband deployment exclusively on the highest-density urban and suburban areas.
If Fairpoint only does a deployment strategy that is closer to industry norm, that should be a significant improvement, compared to what Verizon is doing now in that territory.
Verizon's policy is mostly geared towards their higher population and denser core areas and doesn't adapt as well to their rural regions, so I agree with you on that point.
The big question is whether FairPoint Communications will have the financial resources to get its deployment plans through, or whether the expenses of the buyout will cause it to stumble and you get no expansion of any sort.