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Applications of direct frequency-conversion techniques have been rapidly getting attention of radio designers worldwide. This paper focuses on bringing out key implementation challenges of direct conversion receivers and transmitters targeted for different second- and third-generation mobile phone standards like global system for mobile communication, code division multiple access (cdmaOne and CDMA 2000), and wide-band code division multiple access. Techniques and tradeoffs to arrive at optimal implementation are highlighted. Some of the commercially available application-specific integrated circuits that are based on direct conversion architecture and their salient features are summarized.