I have to disagree with this statement. I work for a wireless ISP in a underserved area and we routinely push 200mbit+ over our backhauls and customers see no more than 5 - 10ms on all hops within our network before it hits our backbone to the Internet. So it's entirely possible to keep up at least with latency and coax or fiber, speeds to the customer is entirely dependent on distance, line of sight and how much of the airwaves are saturated on that frequency which admittedly means speeds may not be up to par to the end user but we still can push 20mbit easily to each CPE on our network.
In my opinion? No. You can't reach the throughput of fiber over the air, however for places that's its physically impossible to run fiber I feel microwave is viable as a backbone, yes. Concerning wired connections such as cable, DSL, FTTH then there really is no replacement for a fiber backbone to the distribution point whether its a node, DSLAM or (obviously for FTTH) the optical splitter in the neighborhood. Seeing how AT&T and others refuse to go this route (upgrading backbones, removing caps due to increased capacity) I think they have no business doing wired connections and their wired customers should be handed over for pennies on the dollar to companies who will upgrade and maintain these networks since they won't.
I have family that is pretty damn country and you will drive for a long time before seeing a single house or evidence of another home somewhere and yet they all still have phone service over copper wires and they all have electricity. Even in very mountainous places they have these services. So it is possible and it was economically feasible then, just as it is now.
Can you name one city/town/community that does not have copper ran to it in one form or another?
I would agree with you about them handing over their assets as part of imminent domain, being they are unwilling to serve the people themselves.