Russian mobile broadband firm Yota has switched on its first LTE network in the Russian city of Kazan in what is thought to be the country’s first live LTE network. The firm said today that a trial network is up and running offering services such as live 3D-video conferencing and HD video streaming. It claims that download speeds of up to 100Mb/s on the network have been achieved in lab tests. Yota says it has invested US$20 million in building the Kazan network, which covers the city’s whole population of over 1 million people with 147 base stations. Kazan is Russia’s third-largest city and the capital of the country’s Tatarstan region. MegaFon – Russia’s third-largest mobile operator – has also earmarked Kazan as the location of its first LTE network and is expected to launch services soon.

Yota’s new LTE network was constructed in just two months and marks a major shift in strategy for an operator that until recently was focusing on WiMAX. The operator announced in May that it was switching to LTE and planning to invest around US$100 million rolling out LTE networks in five Russian cities this year. Today’s launch suggests that, contrary to earlier reports, Yota has been allowed to launch LTE-based services using its current license. Launched in 2007, Yota has almost 600,000 customers in Russia and is also active in several other countries, including Belarus, Peru and Nicaragua.