CORRECTED - Russia's Yota picks LTE over WiMax for expansion

(Corrects the number of clients to more than 500,000, not 350,000, in paragraph 6)

* Will launch LTE instead of WiMax in 15 Russian cities

* To migrate to LTE in cities where it works on WiMax

* To spend $100 mln on roll-out in 5 cities in 2010

* Total investment seen at up to $2 bln

MOSCOW, May 21 (Reuters) - Russian wireless telecoms firm Yota said it decided to develop Long-Term Evolution technology, dealing a major blow to competing standard WiMax, of which it is currently one of the world’s top operators.

Yota plans to spend $100 million on the roll-out of LTE networks in five Russian cities in 2010, while total investments are estimated at up to $2 billion, it said on Friday.

“The only reason we are delaying its launch everywhere is the fact LTE technology is so new,” it said in emailed comments.

During 2008 and 2009 one mobile operator after another chose LTE, a natural evolution of their current 3G networks, over data-centric WiMax, for their next generation, more efficient mobile networks.[ID:nLDE6112EN]

The head of U.S. peer Clearwire Corp CLWR.O said in March that the telecoms industry should focus on bringing WiMax and LTE closer together. [ID:nN24201190]

Yota, founded in 2007, has more than 500,000 mobile Internet clients in Moscow, St Petersburg and three other Russian cities. It is also active in Belarus, Peru and Nicaragua.

It had planned to launch WiMax in 15 more cities.

“In these cities there will be LTE,” Yota said on Friday.

For a Factbox on LTE, double click on [ID:nLDE6112EN] (Reporting by Maria Kiselyova, editing by Will Waterman)