It's no secret I think my ISP, Be*, is the best out there. I'm not paid to say that, I don't get a free subscription and there's no reason for me to promote it, other than simply because I'm a happy customer. A new service that lets you tweak your connection setting has made me even happier.
If you aren't aware, ADSL speed is controlled by several factors. The length of the copper between you and the exchange is the most important of these, because the longer the loop, the more signal will be lost in noise. There are other things that are more controllable, however, such as the noise margin, which is the gap between the ADSL signal and the electronic noise on the line.
What Be* now allows you to do is adjust your signal-to-noise margin yourself in its online member centre. There are four options: the first three are named 'speed', 'standard' and 'reliability'. From what I can tell, based on what's been written by others, the first option puts you on a 3db profile. (Generally, in ADSL, the gap between the signal and noise is 6db, although good quality lines can sustain 3db and really good lines even slightly lower.) The second option, standard, leaves you on the 6db profile, while reliability is a 9db gap between your ADSL signal and any line noise, which should help if you get a lot of disconnects on your connection.
The last option is to switch 'gaming mode' on or off. With ADSL, if you have a long or particularly noisy line, your connection might be unstable, so ISPs use something called interleaving, which is an error correction designed to rescue data that might otherwise be re-sent many times over, which would cause your connection to slow down. As good as interleaving is, though, it introduces significant delay in getting your data to the Internet, which increases latency. In gaming this is often called 'ping' time, and having a high ping can lead to your arse getting seriously fragged. On good lines, interleaving isn't necessary, so switching to fastpath means you'll get lower ping times, and less fraggage in your games.
The profile change seems to be experimental at the moment, so only some (random) customers can see the menu, by logging into the member centre. A word of warning though: according to forum users, this system apparently has bugs, and might mess up your Internet connection. Try it at your own risk!