US Internet giants suffered a defeat in the US Congress where an amendment on "Internet neutrality"was rejected by a Senate committee studying telecom reform, an AFP report said.
The report said Internet neutrality, aimed at preventing network operators from charging an additional fee to Web sites seeking quicker and more effective connections for their users, failed to gain a majority in the committee, which deadlocked.
However, the issue would be examined by the Senate during its debate on telecom reform, the date for which had not yet been set, the report said.
Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan, one of the key promoters of "Internet neutrality," vowed to continue his efforts.
"Any telecommunications legislation adopted by the Senate must preserve Internet freedom, and I will continue to press this issue with my colleagues as this measure moves to the floor for consideration," Dorgan was quoted as saying.
Opponents of the new usage toll, predominantly the IT heavyweights, demanded nothing less than "Internet neutrality," where all traffic remained free in the spirit of democratic usage and access, the report said.
But telephone giants such as Verizon, AT&T and cable TV provider Comcast argued that opponents of the fee were standing in the way of progress since the charges would cover faster Internet access, and were waging their own "hands off the Internet" campaign, the AFP report said.