The Economic Times reports that Indian talk-time on mobile phones has reached a high of 461 minutes per month per subscriber. Indians are the most talkative nationality in the Asia-Pacific region out chatting the largest mobile market, China with 450 million subscribers, by 150 to 240 minutes.
The world’s four largest mobile markets are China, US, India and Russia. When it comes to usage, India with 166 million subscribers is second only to the US where the average American spends 838 minutes per month talking on their mobile phones. Russia with the fourth largest subscriber base logged a mere 88 minutes per month. China falls in the middle with China Mobile reporting usage of 303 mintues per month and China Unicom at 220 mintues.
Some of the variance in talk-time is easily explained by the assoicated tariffs. For example, voice charges in India average $.02 per minute with about $.01 per SMS making it one of the world’s cheapest mobile markets. India, also, adheres to the calling party pays and free inbound SMS schemes familiar to Europeans. Callers and receivers both pay in the US, but subscribers purchase flat rate buckets of minutes on both postpaid and prepaid plans many of which, now, include unlimited SMS. Contrast these subscriber friendlier plans with Russia where voice calls average $.20 per minute within a city and $.27 per minute from, say, Moscow to St. Petersburg. Also, both inbound and outbound calls are charged. Clearly, price matters.
India’s low tariff market is also a low penetration market. Although, growth rates are soring with 68% subscriber increase from March of 2006 to March 2007 according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in Delhi. And with the India mobile market forecasted to triple in the next four years, heavy weights like Vodafone are betting big on talkative Indians.