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Holding the promise of making ubiquitous mobile access to IP-based applications and services a reality, wireless local area networks have been deployed in an unlimited way over the last few years. Due to their robust characteristics, distributed MAC protocols are the most widely used mechanisms to arbitrate access to the wireless channel. However, their ability to achieve high medium usage efficiency while providing services with meaningful performance assurances is being challenged by a wide range of existing and emerging applications that have lately migrated from other telecommunication networks to wireless environments. This article aims to provide a comprehensive study of the limitations and merits of mechanisms that have been proposed toward embedding QoS support to distributed wireless MAC protocols. A hybrid scheme that incorporates signaling and information sharing is proposed, and extensive simulation experiments are run to assess the efficiency of the access schemes in maximizing utilization of the wireless bandwidth while providing QoS support for heterogeneous applications.