TALLINN (Reuters) – Four European countries, including Belgium, use only Chinese gear in their 4G mobile networks and in many large countries more than 50% of equipment comes from China, Danish telecoms research firm Strand Consult said on Tuesday.

Washington wants the world to ban Chinese supplier Huawei from new 5G networks, saying its equipment can be used by Beijing for spying – allegations the company strongly rejects.

Belgium, Malta, Cyprus and Lithuania use only Chinese equipment in their 4G mobile radio networks, Strand said, adding the market share of Chinese equipment was 57% in Germany, just over 50% in Spain and Italy, 40% in Britain and 25% in France.

While telecoms operators often mention their vendors, the market share data is not publicly available. Strand calculated the figures based on talks with sources and more than 100 operators across Europe.

With the technology switch to 5G, operators will need to replace most of their 4G radio network equipment, Strand said, estimating the total additional cost from replacing Chinese equipment at $3.5 billion across the continent.

“This amount compares to 14 months of total European radio access network purchases, a small number both for Europe and the world,” said Strand, which regularly produces sector reports for clients including governments and telecoms operators.

Huawei’s main rivals in the mobile telecom equipment market are Ericsson and Nokia.

(Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Mark Potter)