Rouge to offer wireless IFE

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Air Canada's Rouge fleet will be enabled with wireless streaming inflight entertainment (IFE), allowing passengers to connect to their portable electronic devices in flight.

Content will include movies, music, television shows and information about destinations, the low-cost carrier says. Rouge has not yet announced a provider for the entertainment option, but more details on the pricing and offering will be released before the first Rouge flight in July.

Air Canada has been testing Gogo inflight internet on two Airbus A319 aircraft flying from Toronto or Montreal to Los Angeles. However, the airline says it has prioritised expanding its seatback IFE offerings in the cabin before considering any plans to add more wi-fi enabled aircraft.

"At this point, no decisions have been made on expanding in-flight wi-fi," says Air Canada. "The technology is developing very rapidly and we want to be sure we pick the best solution so we are taking our time."

In May, the airline doubled the content within its seatback inflight entertainment platform on its mainline fleet. The carrier selected the Thales TopSeries embedded system at the 2005 Paris air show.

Several connectivity providers have introduced wireless streaming systems. Thales launched its Ava product last year, which is being tested by Chile's LAN on an Airbus A320. Panasonic Avionics also streams wireless IFE through its eXW system, which Qantas uses on its Boeing 767 fleet.

Gogo offers a streaming option for content to PEDs called Gogo Vision, which Delta Air Lines plans to install on more than 950 aircraft.

Row 44 provides live television channels through its Ku-band network, a feature that Southwest Airlines is offering on its wi-fi enabled aircraft. Last October it followed this with a server-based, on-demand video option for streaming content to portable devices. Allegiant Air is retrofitting the system on its Boeing 757s this year.

WestJet has communicated plans to start testing wi-fi on its aircraft early this year but has yet named a provider for the service. The Calgary-based airline offers live television on its flights within Canada, as well as four pay-per-view channels on flights headed for the USA. It has also deployed Samsung Galaxy tablets on three aircraft with pre-loaded content ahead of the new streaming system.