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High/Wild Ping Times?

Does having your DSL speed turned up higher than it's supposed to be cause extreme volatility in the connection, particularly high, wildly swinging ping times? One of the things the local technician tried to do to fix our speed issues was to turn us and our neighbor up to 2.1mbps from 1.5mbps.

I can't really say if it helped much, we just get 1.7 instead of 1.5 at 6 in the morning now but it still goes down to 0.7 or 0.5 or 0.2 throughout the day and evening. However, our ping times are now very high - 2-300, 4-500 is normal and 800-1000 pops up every now and then. It flips around between these numbers constantly - literally every minute it can change by 100 or 200ms. A month ago we were at 40-75 depending on how far it was 24/7, but we only get that seemly at random now. Trace Routes usually show 1ms for the first hop and ~200+ for the 2nd and beyond.

Obviously this is no good for the kinds of things I use the internet for, like Skype and streaming videos, where a good, consistent ping is probably more important than an extra 2 or 3kbps; I'm just curious if being turned up to an unusual speed could be causing the issue, and I should ask him to set it back down, or if it shouldn't have any effect and we should just leave it alone?

Unfortunately no one seems to know what the overall issue with our internet is, other than we were specifically told that there were not enough customers to cause bandwidth exhaustion despite the slowdown always coming at the same time, and that our neighbors are all having similar problems. Sorry if this post reads badly or is difficult to understand - this whole thing is all very new to me, but we've had a problem for so long that I feel like I need to learn about it.