Correction: Air Canada Rouge picks Panasonic Avionics for inflight entertainment

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Story was updated to note that customers with Apple and PC laptops can access full inflight content, while passengers with other devices, such as those with Android systems, cannot. Also, paragraph seven was clarified to note that Rouge may be the first airline to offer inflight streaming of "DRM" digital content.

Air Canada's low-fare subsidiary Rouge has selected Panasonics Avionics as the data provider for its inflight entertainment system, called "player".

The system will allow customers to access streaming movies, television shows, music and other entertainment via their own wireless devices.

Rouge, a new low-fare division of Air Canada that begins flying 1 July, chose Panasonic's system partly because it has an advanced encryption standard that restricts customers from copying content, says Anton Vidgen, Rouge's vice president of corporate development.

Vidgen tells Flightglobal that Panasonic Avionics uses a "digital rights management", or DRM, technical encryption standard that protects data as it is transmitted wirelessly.

He made his comments after a media event celebrating the launch of Rouge on 25 June at Toronto Pearson International airport.

Encryption is particularly important to movie studios, which want to ensure their content is protected, says Vidgen. Studios typically request different encryption standards for wireless IFE than they do for IFE through closed "end-to-end" seatback entertainment systems, he says. 

Vidgen adds that Rouge is "one of the first, if not the first, [airline] to allow streaming of [DRM] content to passengers' own devices".

Rouge's full selection of movies and shows will be available to customers who download an updated Air Canada application on wireless devices manufactured by Apple, including iPhones, iPads and some iPods. Customers using laptop computers, including PCs and Apple laptops, can also view full content by downloading a plug-in onboard the aircraft, Vidgen says.

Rouge is working to ensure other devices, like those that run the Android operating system, are also supported. But initially customers using those devices can only access a limited selection of entertainment, such as TV shows and some international films, according to Vidgen.

Panasonic Avionics also supports the credit card payment functionality needed by the airline, Vidgen says.

Rouge will offer inflight entertainment for free though the month of July, and will charge customers a flat fee of C$5 (US$4.75) per flight starting in August.

Vidgen says the price offers a "tremendous value" to customers and is a better deal than inflight entertainment offered by other carriers, some of which charge $3.99 for a single movie.

Rouge begins flying on 1 July with a fleet of four aircraft and a route map that primarily connects Toronto to leisure destinations in the Caribbean, Latin America and Europe.

Initial destinations include Athens in Greece, Venice in Italy and Edinburgh in Scotland, as well as cities in Jamaica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.

Rouge announces 25 June that this winter it will add more routes to the Caribbean, Mexico and to the US cities of Las Vegas, Orlando and Sarasota in Florida.