A favorite tool I use is www.dslreports.com. It helps me determine whether my ISP is actually delivering the goods. Over the years, I've gone from DSL to cable and now back to DSL for high-speed access in my home. In urban Seattle, my cable bandwidth fluctuated wildly (yes - a known issue with cable broadband. My guess is that Comcast is oversubscribed in my neighborhood). This variability was frustrating - particularly when working from home - because I just couldn't consistently determine what I was getting for my monthly fee. So, I recently reassessed my options after Qwest sent me an offer for their Premium DSL. (I'm sure there are other interesting vendors out there... this was the easiest for me).

I did have a few issues with the configuration process but the Qwest customer service rep was very helpful and pleasant to work with. But, the proof is in the details, right? When comparing value, here's the difference (per DSL reports):

 

COMCAST (Before) | $49/mo with variable performance

dslreports.com speed test result on 2006-10-03 19:13:19 EST:
2395 / 341
Your download speed : 2395 kbps or 299.4 KB/sec.
That is 56.2% worse than an average user on comcast.net
Your upload speed : 341 kbps or 42.7 KB/sec.
That is 13% worse than an average user on comcast.net

QWEST (After) | Price: $31/mo with predictable, dedicated performance (note: includes 2-yr commit and discount because they provide my home phone line)

dslreports.com speed test result on 2006-10-03 19:07:46 EST:
5446 / 732
Your download speed : 5446 kbps or 680.8 KB/sec.
That is 209.9% better than an average user on qwest.net
Your upload speed : 732 kbps or 91.6 KB/sec.
That is 21.1% better than an average user on qwest.net

 

Given this, I wonder how long it will take for the market to shift away from cable broadband providers and back to the DSL providers now that speeds are once again competitive? My situation may have very well been unique. But, more than the price difference, the fact that I can anticipate that I will always have a reasonably consistent performance level (and for less!) is the biggest advantage.