Livewire has expanded a program to fit hospital wards with laptops and wireless connections by inking a two-year sponsorship deal with Optus.
The Starlight Foundation subsidiary runs an online community for youth living with a serious illness, chronic condition or disability.
It was developed with the assistance of a $7.2 million grant under the Federal Government's clever networks program. It now has 13,500 members.
iTnews reported in February that some of that money would be allocated to a bedside access program, Livewire on Wheels, which puts customised tray tables, laptops and wireless connections into hospital wards, bringing the community to hospitalised kids.
At the time, Livewire said it was pursuing an exclusive deal with a telco. It can now be revealed that Optus has signed on as the sponsor.
The sponsorship will see the Livewire on Wheels program expand from the seven initial metropolitan hospitals to another 26 hospitals, particularly in regional areas.
Livewire managing director Omar Khalifa said the first seven hospitals were already using Optus internet services.
"When we started the program 15 months ago we immediately started looking for the best wireless solution," Khalifa said.
"Optus consistently had the best network and plans and we chose them almost exclusively for our internet supply and connections into the hospitals."
He believed the sponsorship would make it possible to bring the Livewire on Wheels program into regional hospitals.
"We're very dependent on the 3G network particularly in some of the smaller hospitals," he said.
Maha Krishnapillai, director of corporate and regulatory affairs at Optus believed the sponsorship was a great way of showing how communication technology could help people connect with one another.
He said there was "a lot of interest" from staff, Optus World stores and franchisees to become involved in the program.
"Optus World store owners want to know what they can do in their community to make a difference," Krishnapillai said.
"All the stores are very keen to be involved in their local communities. This gives them a tangible way to do that and it directly helps people in need."
Khalifa said the 26 hospitals to benefit from the new Livewire on Wheels units would be named shortly.
"We have a target list [of hospitals] internally that we are working through," he said.