Ann Arbor, MI
Why any sort of landline in rural areas?
Rural areas with low population densities are simply too expensive to service with wires/fiber. The federal government could allocate spectrum specifically for broadband in those areas and subsidize the installation of radios and new towers if necessary. That would be a lot cheaper than subsidizing rural telecom carriers.
As for rural towns, cable companies are doing a good job. Perhaps a federal law explicitly permitting municipal fiber would help service those areas too.