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A performance comparison is presented between two types of code-division multiple-access wireless local area networks: centrally controlled and ad hoc networks. Based on a finite-population model, the network throughput, the average packet delay, and the network first exit time are derived for both systems. Two aspects of the performance comparison are addressed: (1) the comparison between the centrally controlled and the ad hoc architecture; and (2) the impact of spreading gain and error control coding on both systems. The efficiency of bandwidth utilization is investigated by normalizing the network performance with respect to the consumed bandwidth. Evaluations of these performance comparisons are also provided.