The argumentative Indian is also atalkative Indian. An average Indian spends more time talking on his mobile than his counterparts anywhere else except the US, according to the latest data available with telecom regulator Trai.

With over 160 million mobile subscribers, India has the highest monthly 'minutes of usage' (MOU) per subscriber in the Asia-Pacific region. The figure, according to the December 2006 data, is 454 minutes a month for GSM users and 424 minutes a month for CDMA subscribers.However,Trai chairman Nripendra Misra says the figure should be closer to 500 minutes a month if latest data are taken into account.

At 450 million, China has the largest number of mobile subscribers, followed by the US, India and Russia. However, despite its numbers, the average usage at China Mobile, the country's leading telecom service provider, is just upwards of 303 minutes a month, with China Unicom hovering close to 220 minutes a month.

However, the US still holds the top slot in terms of minutes of usage per month. According to Merrill Lynch, in the fourth quarter of 2006, the US recorded 838 minutes a month, with India at the second position with 461 minutes. In contrast, Russia, the world's fourth largest mobile market, had just 88 minutes a month.

India's mobile growth potential is no surprise considering the fact that with average call tariffs at well below Re 1 a minute it is rated as one of the cheapest markets in the world.

In fact, global corporations eyeing India are often torn between low prices and growth. Clearly, Vodafone's recent entry suggests that they are willing to bet big on potential. Estimates suggest the Indian mobile market is set to triple in the next four years and nearly a third of that growth is expected to come from rural India.
Amidst this good news, the industry continues to struggle through uncertainties of spectrum and an onerous tax regime, which affects future planning, costs and consumer access.