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Life could be about to get tougher for independent mobile phone resellers following reports that the big operators are cutting back the commissions they offer for sales.

According to the Mail on Sunday, O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone want to flog more of their phones and airtime packages through their own network of retail outlets instead of paying commission to resellers. In particular, it seems that the big boys are keen to keep their new 3G phone services in-house and are supplying their own stores at the expense of independent retailers.

But a spokesman for Phones4U - which has around 350 stores - said he was unaware of the business being affected in any way by the big four cutting back on payments. "In our experience, that's not the case," he said.

He also argued that while flogging phones via their own network of stores might be good business for the phone companies, it might not be what consumers want.

Because Phones4U - and rivals The Carphone Warehouse and The Link, among others - are not tied to the cellcos, they can offer mpartial advice to steer punters through the maze of different handsets, services and tariffs on offer.

Elsewhere, the MoS also reports that handset maker NEC has hired top lawfirm Freshfields to take on dodgy phone disties, who snap up heavily subsidised 3G phones, illegally "unblock" them and then flog them abroad at much higher prices. ®

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