Sweet, Blessed Bandwidth
For a while now there have been flyers in the elevator of the building where we live advertising network service through the 10baseT network that was presciently added to the original design of the place. It helps that the building is fairly new, having been constructed in the wake of the '89 quake and the destruction of the Emabarcadero Freeway. At some point in the late 90's internet service had been provided to every unit via a shared T1 line, but that died about the same time that pets.com's sock puppet hung it up, or went back into the drawer, or wherever it is that sock puppets go in the afterlife. Thankfully everything old is new again and the service has been resumed by a new company, albiet with a fatter pipe (T3).
Contrasting VVD's installation process with SBC's is a study in how a small company can beat the living crap out of entrenched players. Of course, the local phone and cable monopolies don't usually tend to sent an exceedingly high bar for customer service, but when you can select (online) what time you'd like the install (to within the hour) and the guy shows up on time, the phone company should start to worry. A lot.
When I lived in Madison, I happily gave my business to TDS instead of the local telco monopoly, and I was always impressed with their service and general geek-friendlyness. It seems that VVD is a bandwidth provider in the same mold. After the initial "install" (lighting up an ethernet port) I found myself staring down some weird speed issues. In my haste to configure the Airport for the new service instead of the previous PPPoE setup, I neglected to reset the ethernet duplex settings. Halarity ensued while I tried to figure out why the OS X boxes (which don't support Selective ACK) saw roughtly 1/10 the upload bandwidth of the linux boxen (which do). Some dinner and a whack-the-forehead moment later and we've now got a network connection that's faster than anything I've used on a daily basis since college.
A better, synchronous connection and the ability to stop paying monopoly rent for bandwidth...now that's what I call progress.