Verizon is apparently considering selling its telephone lines in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine: The 1.6m local phone lines in those areas are expensive to operate, and as a large firm, Verizon doesn't receive subsidies that smaller carriers do, which allow small carriers in these markets to remain in business. Any buyer of the lines would not receive higher subsidies, according to this New York Times article.
Rural and town residents in these three states already have developing-world quality broadband service. There's a fear with a smaller firm with less capital that even less effort towards improving data services will be made.
One potential buyer of these phone lines is CenturyTel, however. The firm won the contract to build out Wi-Fi service in Vail, Colorado, and just signed up to deploy a 1,700-square-mile network in Pierce County, Washington, covering mostly rural areas and small towns, with Tacoma as the only large city in the mix. There's a slight glimmer of hope for the rural New England market in that outcome if Wi-Fi and other wireless data networking becomes part of CenturyTel's arsenal of tools in making these rural and small-town markets profitable.