More firsts from 3, the 3G mobile phone operator in the UK. This time its real-time multiplayer gaming. The service, called "over-the-air", will go live in April and allows up to four gamers to play each other in real-time, over the 3 network.

The first real-time multiplayer games available on 3 will be No Refuge, a tank battle war game supplied by Mobile Interaction, followed by Lock 'n Load, a shooting game from Synergenix. In addition, 3 will launch the "turn-based" multiplayer game, Cannons Tournament, a shoot and fire cannon game supplied by Macrospace.

3 also announced today advanced games of "near console quality". The "near console quality" games that will be available to customers through 'Today on 3' will include Rally Pro Contest, a 3D rally driving game and Lock 'n Load mentioned above.

3 is the only UK operator to offer customers the choice of buying and renting games. With the RENT option customers pay 25p per play, or 50p for up to three days of play on a game.

With the BUY option customers make a one off payment, of between £3 and £7.50 and then have continuous use of the game on their video mobile. The near console quality games that are initially available on certain models of handset cost a rather expensive £7.50 per title.