Google Inc. plans to invest at least $200 million to build its first three data centers in Asia as it expands its infrastructure to keep pace with the region's burgeoning Internet use.
The Internet search giant has bought land in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore for the data centers, which typically are secure facilities packed with thousands of computers that store and serve vast amounts of data.
It aims to finish construction in one to two years, but didn't give specific start dates. The Taiwan and Hong Kong data centers are expected to cost $100 million each, including the cost of land. It didn't give a figure for Singapore.
"Asia's the fastest growing market for Internet users and Internet usage so we're seeing large numbers of new users coming online every day," Taj Meadows, Google's policy communications manager in Asia, said Thursday.
Google is setting up the new data centers so users can have "faster and more reliable access" to online services, he said.
The data center expansion also reflects the growing popularity of cloud-based computing, in which users access word processing, spreadsheet and other programs over the Internet instead of keeping them on their own machines.
The expansion also reflects heavy demand in Asia for online entertainment. Thais, for example, most often search online for music and videos while South Koreans frequently use their phones to upload videos to YouTube, according to Google data, Meadows said.
Mountain View, Calif.-based Google already has six data centers in the United States and two in Europe.
Google boasts that its data centers are energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Its 200 million euro ($272 million) Finnish facility, for example, is housed in an old paper mill with a high-tech cooling system that uses seawater. The company said the Asian data centers be built to the same standards.
Once they come online, the Taiwan and Hong Kong centers will employ five to 20 full-time staff, including computer technicians and engineers.
Google has 15 offices and thousands of employees across Asia.
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