I hail from a state where bandwidth is yet at a premium. Typical download speeds, in my experience as a dialup ADSL user, range from 10KBps up to 70KBps. Inclement weather may cause packet loss if not outright link failure. Over the last few months several ISP hereabouts have responded to service requests speaking of issues at the gateway.
Granted the issues I face are local but my intent here should be pretty clear - What are the alternatives to downloading the multi-GB (and growing!) block chain?