If you are thinking about 'broadband internet access' (a highly technical term that means much faster and slightly less reliable porn) there are many factors to consider. First you have to find out what's available in your area. Then, you can start comparing your available options. Computer geeks might tell you to compare things like latency, up and down bandwidth, and the number of flashy lights of the hardware, but I tell you there is a more important factor: entertainment.
To start with, there is the question of your choice of providers. This is itself highly humourous in many cases. Take here, for instance, the Atlanta Metro area. It used to be you had the option of getting an old fashioned (cheap and slow) modem connection through the phone company's network or an incredibly fast, yet ludicrously expensive connection through the phone company's network. Now with 'modern' technology your options have expanded, well, not much. Now you may have the choice of a slow dial-up modem connection through the phone company network, a fast unreliable expensive DSL connection through the phone company network, or a fast unreliable expensive cable connection through your cable television provider. Yes, for those in other places, we are honestly expected to chose between the local telephone monopoly and the local cable monopoly for internet access (or phone service actually). These two organizations have charters from state and federal governments guarenteeing that they will have unfettered control over their respective halves of all of the low-voltage wires running into your home, and may charge as much as they feel like, delivering as little actual sevice is possible. (The high voltage and gas lines have their own monopolies, of course.) Apparently the only thing the government requires out of these mega-corps to maintain their position (besides campaign donations and kickbacks, of course) is that customer service be outlawed. As a final kick in the face, our local cable monopoly got bought out by Atlantic Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T), long known as 'Ma Bell' for it's own history of phone monopolies. So, instead of the laughable choice between the phone and cable monopolies, both bastions of theft by taking, horrendous customer disservices, and incompetent technicians, we now get to choose between two phone companies. This can only be funny to people who live elsewhere.
Currently, I am enrolled with the cable company phone company for cable internet access. I had it installed in very early April, and it worked fairly well (skipping one weekend and glossing over their laugable DNS, mail, and news servers) for almost two months before randomly crapping out about two weekends back. I have been on the phone with them quite a bit since then, including yesterday. The call yesterday had been going on for one and a half hours (from 1600 to almost exactly 1730), and had actually seemed to be making some progress. I had held for 20 minutes for 'tier one', spent perhaps five minutes convincing then that they couldn't help me (not tough, they must be bred for technical ignorance) and another 20 or so waiting for 'tier two'. The young woman I was working with there was polite and courteous, and I greatly regreted having to lie to her so much. But lie I did, repeatedly, and eventually we came to a possible problem: the 'modem', specificaly the blinky lights. (Never underestimate the importance of blinking lights in high tech items. If nothing else it keeps the PHBs mystified.) It seems likely that the 'modem' has crapped out. I asked her if, with her technical experience, she would believe that that would happen after two months, and she said she'd seen it happen after three days. I was reminded that the 'modem' in question was actually the second one the installer used, the first one having crapped out. So, having exhausted her copious list of Windows-specific troubleshooting tricks, she was willing to send out a guy to switch out the 'modem'. (Apparently the idea of me bringing them the infernal thing somewhere and making the exchange doesn't work. Maybe they don't want their customers to know their location.. ) This sounded suspiciously like progress, so I got nervous. It seems I was correct. Despite having spent at least half a hour on the phone with me (likely closer to 45 minutes) she was not able to authorize a repair truck without her 'supervisor'. I then got to hold for quite a few more minutes while she explained the whole mess in detail to her 'supervisor'. She finally came back on the line and started to talk about scheduling, saying nice things like she'd try and work me into the schedule up front, since I'd been offline for so long, and we were working on confirming those details when the phone disconnected. She did not call back. This destroyed most of the repect I had developed for her personally, and dissapated any guilt I might have accumulated from dishonesty
Figuring there is some scant chance she went ahead and scheduled the truck, I stayed home and mostly awake near the door all day today. Somewhere in the five o'clock hour I decided to call to see if the automated system that answers their phone would tell me anything. I dialed, it rings and connects and I hear a message simillar to: "Thank you for calling ATT Broadband. All circuits are busy. Bother us later, creep. [click]".
That's when I started thinking about the entertainment value of the whole thing. Twenty minutes later or so, I redialed and reached the automated system: "To continue in English press 1, pero por la lingua Espanol .. ". I dived through the menus, selected technical support and had a brief chat with another nice young woman (who inadvertently admitted to being in the billing department). She punched keys for a while and then mournfully informed me that they were experiencing technical difficulties with that system, and she couldn't get to it (the truck scheduling system). I asked jokingly if they were running Vantiv, which luckilly she hadn't heard of. I wheedled her about it all a bit more, and she revealed that they had added another state (!) today. She apologized as were were closing the call, and I soothed her, saying it wasn't her problem. (What I didn't say was that if she were a database hacker rather than a server I would have cursed her name in three languages..) She suggested I call back in a couple hours. She was sure it would be up by then.
So other people may have an internet connection, but I have a source of boundless entertainment.
Update 14:42 Wed 06 June 2001: I am about to call again...
Update 10:09 Thur 07 June 2001: That call netted me a promise from yet another nice young woman that she would call me when the system came back up. A novel idea, but I haven't heard from them. I tried again just afew minutews ago, and was greeted by the all circuits busy message, which I neglected to mention includes an email address.
I called again around 1400, and all circuits were busy.