Vodafone will start Internet roaming trials this month with Connexion by Boeing, its in-flight broadband Internet service.

Connexion by Boeing uses a wired or wireless LAN on board commercial airliners to connect users to the Internet via a satellite system on board the aircraft. The 5Mbit/s-down, 1Mbit/s-up connection is shared among passengers.

The deal will allow Vodafone PC and PDA customers with to log into Vodafone's service through the Connexion portal, said a spokesman. "It's all about billing," he said. "Any Vodafone customer would be able to get our branded services without the inconvenience of getting billed by another party."

The companies didn't say how long the trials would last. If they are successful and Vodafone decides to launch the service it will probably be available first on Lufthansa flights in and out of Europe, and will be aimed at business customers.

Connexion was launched in May on one Lufthansa route, with the German airline expanding availability to other routes over the subsequent months.

Boeing has already signed roaming agreements with a number of communications services companies including iPass, Infonet, NTT DoCoMo, Singapore Telecommunications and StarHub.

It has signed agreements to provide Connexion by Boeing services to China Airlines, Singapore Airlines All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, and SAS. Preliminary agreements have been signed with Korean Air, Asiana Airlines and two other unannounced airlines.