Back in 2009, Time Warner Cable tried, unsuccessfully, to bring usage-based billing to market before abandoning the project. Well, the company has jumped back into the fray with a new "Essentials" plan in a few South Texas markets, with more to come in the future. Under the new plan, customers can choose to get $5 off their monthly bill for giving up unlimited data in favor of a 5GB data cap.

The company emphasizes its customers "will always have access to unlimited broadband," and that the deal is meant as a way for cash-strapped families to save a few bucks, but even modest web use could put you over 5GB pretty quickly. Going over the 5GB will cost you $1 per GB, to a maximum of $25 per month regardless of how far you go over. That means you could go up to 10GB without paying anything extra (or, if you're a pessimist, that you can get a 10GB plan for the same price as your old unlimited one).

Other details of the plan include a "meter" site that customers can check to get up-to-the-hour usage totals and a two-month grace period for overages, and of course you can always change your plan back if you decide to — despite the data cap, internet service isn't a contract like a subsidized cell phone plan. Right now, Essentials pricing is only available in San Antonio, Laredo, Corpus Christi, the Rio Grande Valley and the Border Corridor.