I read your article titled "ISPs suffering" (October 31, page 1) with interest. As someone who has changed ISPs a number of times, I agree with most of what you say, but there may be one factor you have not addressed: the quality of the telephone lines.
My first ISP was Academy Internet, which sold out to SENet. I was dissatisfied with the quality of the service I received - frequent dropouts were a particular problem. Several calls to their technical support section produced no real help at all, so I changed to TPG. The problem remained, and their technical support was only available via a 1900 number at additional cost. I changed again to Dove Internet, which was almost immediately purchased by Asia Online. A similar problem remained.
At about this time, I relocated. I was able to retain the same telephone numbers. Then the mediocre Internet service deteriorated even further.
Calls to Telstra resulted in my modem being locked down to a maximum connect rate of 28.8Kbps. This cured the dropout problem, but at the expense of speedy downloads. Asia Online sent a technician to my premises to test the line from their point of view. He commented that the line quality was the worst he had seen. Telstra told me they have no obligation to do anything about my line. Their technician told me they only guarantee a transmission rate of 24Kbps.
I am very concerned about Telstra's apparent lack of concern. The world has moved to an increasingly high level of dependence upon electronic communication, yet they appear not to be upgrading their equipment at a comparable rate. Telstra have continued to charge me a high rate of rental for the line (with the cost being recently increased), but are not providing a level of service anywhere near the value of what they charge.
With the announcement by Asia Online that it is in liquidation, I have to find another ISP.
ISPs in general seem to offer poor levels of service, but I wonder how many of your readers are unfairly blaming them for technical problems that might actually be caused by the poor-quality and ageing telephone system we use to connect to the Internet.