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High-rate direct-sequence (DS) spread spectrum is a modulation technique in which most or all of the spreading is provided by nonbinary data modulation. For applications to mobile ad hoc wireless networks, the limited processing gain of high-rate DS spread spectrum gives only modest protection against multiple-access or multipath interference, which limits the applicability of the modulation technique to fairly benign channels. In this paper, we explore the increased interference-rejection capability that can be obtained from convolutional coding with Viterbi decoding, Reed–Solomon coding with errors-and-erasures decoding, and block product coding with iterative decoding. For channels with multiple-access or multipath interference, performance results are given for several soft-decision decoding metrics, the benefits of adaptive-rate coding are illustrated, and the accuracy and utility of the Gaussian approximation are described. We also show how to use the bit-error probability for a system without error-control coding to determine which modulation method will give the best packet-error probability in a system with error-control coding.