In that sense I have been blessed growing up in a country where it doesn't take too much effort to put cables in the ground by people who know very well how to do just that. Sure, it is more expensive and cumbersome when repairs are needed, but the thing is that the amount of times a repair is needed, drops to near zero. Especially in geologically stable places.
Another advantage is that in a lot of situations you can plan to do maintenance on telecom cables or gas/water pipes when for example the electricity company opens the street/sidewalk to do an upgrade. If more than one type of company does work this way, they can divide the costs of opening and closing the street/sidewalk back up. That is enough of a cost saver for any company to actively search for such partnering deals where they can.
In the end, companies have more ROI putting cables into the ground, customers enjoy a much more stable services provided over these cables and, in most cases, do not have to worry long about circumventing dangerous situations that can be introduced when streets/sidewalks are opened up.
Distribution of services through cables going through the air? Last resort for people living or working in locations directly above bedrock, but for a lot of places (in 1st world countries as well) it sounds like lazyness to me. Most consider the Netherlands to be a first world country and in all my time living there (spread over different cities in the southern part and 33 years) is that you will have power, gas, water, cable and telephone services available, as long as you pay your monthly bills and do not pull any main switch yourself in your residence. Snow, ice, storms, heat...all of that doesn't affect availability.
Here in Paraguay all cables go through the air and reliability just isn't there. Transformers on poles that blow out seemingly at random, car/truck accidents, trees storms so strong that power cables (with separators in between them!) still manage to touch each other, heavy rains...it is almost like companies "providing" their services through the 'cable in air' method settle for saying "at least we tried" to their customers. A sign of weakness anywhere in the world, if you would ask me (and I know you didn't).
Internet here in the capital of PY, in a highly commercial part where electricity and connectivity is paramount for most businesses/shops, is spotty at best when it rains. Which it is doing right now. So in that sense, we (rgdot and Shades) are kindred spirits.