MUMBAI: The number of mobile subscriptions in India will exceed 97% of the nation's 1.2 billion population by 2014, as more people in rural areas buy their first handset.

A new report from iSuppli also shows that mobile ownership in the world's second most-populous nation will reach 766 million by the end of 2010.

Currently, 70% of the nation's mobile phone subscriptions are held by people in urban areas - despite the fact that this group makes up only 30% of the total population.

New purchases will therefore be concentrated in rural areas, with a bias towards lower-price, entry-level handsets.

Meanwhile, the urban trend will be towards smartphone ownership, as new 3G and WiMAX networks come online.

Mobile infrastructure investment is on the increase, rising from $8.3bn (€6.2bn, £5.3bn) in 2009 to a forecast $11bn-plus in 2011.

Jagdish Rebello, senior director and principal analyst for wireless research at iSuppli, said: "Almost everyone - except children and the abjectly poor - will have a cell phone in India, with those having multiple mobiles boosting total subscription rates and compensating for those without."

iSuppli also predicts that more handset manufacturers will set up factories in India, as they aim to cut costs in meeting the increased demand for their products.

Data sourced from iSuppli; additional content by Warc staff