NEW YORK - Time Warner Cable is ready to begin testing a service that would have customers pay a nominal fee for high-speed Internet usage that exceeds monthly allowances.

 

The testing will start Thursday for customers in Beaumont, Texas. A company spokesman said broadband subscribers will be charged $1 per gigabyte above monthly usage allowances.

 

The spokesman told Reuters the policy probably would affect the top 5 percent of users who spend a "disproportionate" amount of time on the network.

 

Customers in Beaumont will be offered different service levels, including a low-end plan that will offer 768 kbps service with a 5 GB limit for $29.95 monthly.

 

A $54.90 monthly plan will offer 15 mbps service with a 40 GB limit.

 

Some technology blogs have criticized the plan, saying it would affect customers' interest in watching online videos and anger those who currently pay for unlimited service.