[Update: Upon request, I've added the names of the companies I was referring to as well as some updates at the end.]
I'm not happy with my Internet. There are, at least for a few more months, 5 major ISP's in Israel (which will unfortunately drop to 3 soon enough). There are more, but I'm only considering the largest ones.
Anyway, of these 5 ISP's, one (Internet Gold) I don't like for personal reasons (I'd rather not elaborate), another (012 Golden Lines, the smallest of the lot) has a reputation of being technically inferior and yet another (Bezeq International) has a very bad reputation of taking money off customers without prior notice, making it very hard to get it back (experienced by people close to me).
This leaves me with 2 choices. I had been customer of one of these 2 options (Barak) for several years, being pretty happy with it (service, support and quality). Yet, during the past few months I had had a need to work more intensively with a cross-atlantic VPN connection. This connection got constant short disconnections due to packet losses somewhere in the middle. After having tried to fix this problem together with my ISP for a couple of weeks, I came to the conclusion that that's the best they can offer, and decided to move to the second of my optional ISP's (Netvision).
Yet, after a while I started to feel the download times are significantly lower than with the previous ISP. I'm talking HTTP download (I don't use any P2P) from major US-based websites. I talked to their support, and after some junior support person finished proposing me stupid solutions (workarounds that would barely make my granma happy, if she were alive), I finally got to talk to a senior support guy. This was the worst support conversation I ever had - he was rude, didn't let me finish my sentences, constantly made me feel like I'm a bone-head, and made me decide to move back to my previous ISP - at least they were polite!
Customer service tried to convince me to stay, and since I have technical problems with both, I'm now paying for 2 ISP's, checking the differences between them every day or so, hoping I'll be able to decide in the next couple of weeks.
I am now several weeks in this test. In general, there is no significant difference in download time between the two providers (Barak and Netvision). When one of them is slow, the other seems to be as slow (with sometimes an advantage for Barak). One MAJOR difference is the download time of emails (I think it's most promiment with my 2 GMail accounts). There Netvision can get stuck for several minutes (especially mails with large attachements), whereas Barak works like a charm.
I am supposed to receive in the next few days a router that will do the VPN work instead of the software installed on my machine. I'll then check the VPN connection more thoroughly, and make my final decision. Due to the quality of the support team and the email speed, I really hope I will be able to choose to get back to Barak and get this done with.
In any case, I assume the decision between these two will have only a short-term impact, since the two companies are due to be merged during the year of 2007.