Russian mobile operator MegaFon and Yota, the WiMAX operator, are on track to launch LTE test networks in Russia later this year, reports LTE World. According to to Kommersant, a Russian newspaper, MegaFon expects to receive LTE spectrum before any of its rivals and is planning a test network in Kazan – the capital city of Russia’s Tatarstan region – by year-end. “MegaFon… has everything you need to create a LTE test zone in Kazan, including technical ability and willingness to invest in technology development,” said Igor Azure, a regional director at MegaFon.

MegaFon’s timeframe will put it in a race with Yota, which is planning to begin LTE testing in Kazan by August. Telegeography reports that Russia’s Federal Communications Agency (Rossvyaznadzor) has approved plans for Yota to use its WiMAX spectrum for LTE after it had previously said that the frequencies allocated to WiMAX could not be used for other technologies. Yota – one of the world’s largest WiMAX operators – announced in May it was to drop WiMAX in favour of LTE in a significant blow to the WiMAX camp. Yota plans to spend US$100 million rolling out LTE networks in five Russian cities in 2010, while total investment is estimated at up to US$2 billion. It plans to launch LTE in Moscow and Russia’s second city of Saint Petersburg at the end of 2011.