Construction has started on the New Cross Pacific (NCP) cable network – 13,000km of subsea cable that will connect the U.S. to landing points in China, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan.
The project has been engineered by Microsoft, with the IT giant securing sponsorship from a consortium which includes China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Chunghwa Telecom, SoftBank Mobile and KT Corporation, ZDNet reports.
The Asian route is expected to completed by late 2017 and is one of a number of underwater fiber optic projects initiated by Microsoft – including a line which connects North America to the United Kingdom and Ireland via the Atlantic Ocean – which sees its subsea cable network as vital in supporting its expanding portfolio of cloud services.
Microsoft, which offers Azure and Office 365 as cloud platforms, says the subsea cables are crucial in maximising data speeds and will allow it to deploy its cloud-based products to more places around the world.
However, it is having to play catch-up with its competitors, with Facebook and Google already having invested in undersea cables to Asia as cloud costs continue to tumble.
"When we look to the future with these investments, we believe our customers will see that Microsoft is pulling together all the components necessary to make its cloud services the most reliable, accessible and secure," David Crowley, Microsoft's managing director of network enablement, wrote in a blog post.
Crowley acknowledged that competition in the cloud market "continues to heat up", but he said that success in the cloud and infrastructure space is not solely dependent on being first to lay the foundations.
He claims that "holistic innovation and providing value to customers from the 'sea to the sky'" will play a greater part in who rises to the top of the market.