You overlook a small problem. If you are too far from the C.O. to get Verizon, how can you get Panix?
And if they are reselling Verizon's service (and Verizon is one of the low quality high speed Internet providers), then how is their service any better?
Getting an email account that is external to your ISP is an easy matter. Either you can use one of the free or pay email services or you can register a domain (very inexpensive to do, by the way) and get an email account associated with that domain (several of the registrars give a free email account with a registration). So I'd consider that part a non-issue and fully agree with you.