Why would a mesh based wired system not work also?
It's almost as if the current history and the status quo prevents us from thinking that things could be different.
An alternate course to a monopolistic phone company based phone network (and thus internet) system could well have evolved (and still could, if people cared) by the cooperative efforts of individuals, communities and corporations. People can/could have run wires to their immediate neighbors' houses if they felt like it (and the laws didn't prevent it, which they likely do in most jurisdictions). Communities can/could have funded and owned the wires to other communities. Corporations can/could fund (and charge for) some infrastructure for long hauls and could help local efforts when requested to do so. Such a system of distributed responsibility would be much harder to control and censor then one built in the first place, and still owned in most cases, by government monopoly.
All it takes is: ...the desire, the belief that it is important, and the removal/circumvention of any legislative barriers to it.