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The problem of distributed detection in a sensor network over multiaccess fading channels is considered. A random-access transmission scheme referred to as the type-based random access (TBRA) is proposed and analyzed. Error exponents of TBRA under noncoherent detection are characterized with respect to the mean transmission rate and the channel-coherence index. For the zero-mean multiaccess fading channels, it is shown that there exists an optimal mean-transmission rate that maximizes the detection-error exponents. The optimal mean-transmission rate can be calculated numerically or estimated using the Gaussian approximation, and it gives a sensor-activation strategy that achieves an optimal allocation of transmission energy to spatial and temporal domains. Numerical examples and simulations are used to compare TBRA with the conventional centralized time-division multiple access (TDMA) scheme. It is shown that for the zero-mean multiaccess fading channels, TBRA gives substantial improvement in the low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) regime whereas for the nonzero mean fading channels, TBRA performs better over a wide range of SNR.