Ugh, that was a horror story!
I have DSL through Fairpoint where I'm at, and I've got to say I'm pretty lucky compared to you. While my speeds are modest (~320KB/s down and ~80KB/s up), they're constant (as expected from DSL) - I don't have to worry about peak usage times or any other kind of slowdown. There's never a complaint about using too much bandwidth - I've run my connection at max both ways for entire months before (seriously, 24/7 for a whole month) without issue.
The customer service used to suck, but - and I hate to say this - since they declared bankruptcy in order to dump the union, it's improved considerably. My final complaint - that I couldn't pay my internet provider online - has been resolved, and I'm pretty content with the situation.
The only other ISP in the area is Time Warner, and from what I've heard they're more expensive and less reliable, although you can get faster speeds (if you're online at 3 am).
The whole problem is the private ownership of the infrastructure. Move the infrastructure to public ownership on a state, county, or city/town basis (my preference is for the latter), and lease access to ISPs, and you not only have a new avenue for competition but a means for local communities to collect a little revenue on the side.