When they went to digital switches most rural or small town COs are now half empty. If they allowed higher caps or a wireless antenna at the house wireless would be a better deal then rural dsl. The density is just not there for short cable runs. It is getting worse for ATT because their customers are dropping the landlines for wireless and it is even worse if they can not even get dsl. So they are getting less and less revenue to maintain the plant that is there. Uverse was cutting edge when they started but now ATT is being left in the dust compared to cable and Fios.
You really can't compare U-Verse to FiOS as being left in the dust- they only complete in what? 2 or 3 towns? If 3?
They should be worried about cable; but many of those same people can't get cable either. at&t should just build out a fixed wireless solution and have at it. They've done it before under Ed in AK and I believe in AR. It worked, and its been proven to still work today.