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The character of multipath-induced propagational fading is reviewed, along with the interpretations underlying use of the Rayleigh fading model to describe the process statistics. The relationship between this model and contemporary laboratory fading simulators is also outlined. The effects of the fading upon data communications are described, along with the techniques of modulation, diversity, coding, and adaptive equalization used in modern modem designs for operation over such channels. Finally, the system engineering problems are discussed of attempting to provide quantitative estimates of long-term link or network performance that takes into account the longer term channel variabilities.