I'm new to this Study Group, and I think this will be my first post here; glad to be here! ...So I just started reading the "Internet Routing Architectures (BGP)" book and I'm on the second chapter, it's very interesting - the details on ISPs and the internet, even though this book is old it holds valuable information.
I'm curious, how would you even go about discovering the quality of an ISPs network and design to figure out which ISP you would want to go with? For instance, I have a standard consumer cable connection to Cox Communications in California, how would I get this information, and would they even give to to me? This doesn't seem to be realistic.
unless you have already had experience with the company involved, or know somebody who has already had dealings with that company, you are more or less dependant on their marketing and sales pitch. Just like many things in life, really. I do agreed though with you; it hardly seems realistic but perhaps it's intended more as an academic consideration.
It's relatively easy to get a high-level overview of most ISPs. Here's a page with links to a lot of fiber maps. I can tell you from experience with some of the listed networks, though, that these maps are mostly incomplete, even as picture of their high speed links. You can also get a look at the BGP peering for a lot of networks at bgp.he.net. For more detail than that, you'll have to take an engineer from your ISP out for drinks. Like Rob said, if you talk to sales people (and sales people are who you have access to as a customer) you're only going to get the sales pitch.
Thanks to Bradford for sharing; pretty interesting maps, even though some links are dead.
It's surprising that China Telecom unveiled their China National Fiber Network...