We'd heard about Time Warner Cable's test run of consumption-based billing in Beaumont, Texas, back in January, though details were scant. Now they're plentiful. The plans (for new subscribers only) start up on Thursday, but thankfully they're not as bad as we imagined-the overage fee is only $1/GB and is waived the first two months. Plans start $30 for 768Kbps downloads and a 5GB cap, and go up to $55 for a pretty sweet 15Mbps downstream and a 40GB cap. Not egregious, but we still hate it, especially since you'll probably be seeing this in lotsa places, sooner than you'd expect.
Designed to thwart hardcore data slurpers (and soon HD video downloads that'll in time seriously compete with cable's offerings), consumption-based billing throws us back to the days AOL-sure, it's more data, but the principle is effectively the same, and it'll to regular consumers sooner than the cable industry would have you believe, especially once online video actually gets rolling. While Time Warner emphasized to us it's just a test, we don't expect this to stay in Texas for long, especially with Comcast mulling over similar plans. Long live internet in the US. [Yahoo]