What is reputed to be the largest wireless cloud in the U.S. is in Oregon. Conventional wisdom has it that only densely populated metropolitan areas can support wireless Internet services. This CNN story matches what I've seen here in Texas. Texas spent $200 million a year to start rural Internet projects (which is another story), but the only successful rural wireless ISPs I know of (two of them headquartered within 12 miles of my house) never took a cent of government grant money and ignored the conventional wisdom. They seem to be doing fine.
The Oregon WISP is taking government money, but not grants.