Although Vésper has built a fixed wireless platform in a profitable coverage area, fixed-line operators no longer consider the CLEC attractive because of its strategy of competing with the mobile carriers. As a result, Vésper is involved in legal disputes with Telemig Celular and Amazônia Celular, as well as facing administrative proceedings and possible penalties from Anatel. These battles have scared prospective buyers away, at least until the dust settles somewhat, says a non-executive director of a fixed-line operator in Brazil, asking not to be identified by name. He acknowledges the attractiveness of a phone with limited mobility that costs 5 centavos of a real per minute (now less than 2 US cents). Vésper could therefore be a worthwhile acquisition, provided it obtained authorization from Anatel. Unlike Vésper, other wireless carriers were obliged to pay for their licenses to provide mobile service. BCP São Paulo, for instance, paid a license fee of 2.6 billion US dollars. However, the market might see that as an unfair advantage, says the source.
Marco Aurélio Rodrigues, president of Qualcomm, which controls Vésper, says the CLEC remains a fixed-line operator. It always has and continues to use a wireless local loop (WLL) platform. The difference, he says, is the type of handset. Vésper?s initial handset didn?t allow mobile use but then Anatel authorized the use of a portable handset with mobility restricted to the user?s own premises. Mr Rodrigues declines to furnish more details because of the ongoing administrative and legal proceedings, but says Vésper is studying the possibility of bidding for D and E band leftovers to resolve the mobility issue in some areas. Confirming that Brian Schicker has been hired as executive vice president of the consumer business unit, he explains that the former head of Americel and Claro Digital has expertise in mobile operations and will focus on residential users and small business.