Verizon sees no future for the copper plant, and, except for the fact that they are legally required to maintain it, wish it would disappear. So, it's not being maintained. Verizon will claim it doesn't have enough money, time or people to keep it in working order, and that it is degrading.
I know, because they played this little game in my suburban town of 15000 people, filed for permission to abandon their copper plant (which was granted by the state Public Utilities Commission) and informed me that my copper line would be disconnected come March. I was advised to schedule an installation date for fiber (which, not coincidentally, can deliver the high profit FIOS multimedia and networking services). So, with no option to keep copper, I now have fiber. Which, needless to say, does not work if the power goes out.
Let me hasten to add, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the copper plant in Holliston, Massachusetts. Except that it cannot provide broadband services. Since I moved in 35 years ago, we have had zero problems with our copper landline. It has been as reliable as one would expect, given the careful system design from Bell Labs.
It's all about money and competing with Comcast, at least in the high population density areas. The rest of you are "F"'ed.