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We propose two new receiver architectures for a ultra wide band (UWB) system based on the IEEE 802.15.4a standard. The design objective is robustness against strong multiple access interference (MAI). The first proposed structure models MAI as an additive white Gaussian noise (AWGN) whose power is estimated at each frame, rather than on average, in such a way to take account of the impulsive nature of interference. The second approach aims at jointly optimizing demodulation and decoding, and, in this case, MAI is modeled as a generalized Gaussian mixture process. In both cases, the maximum likelihood receiver is derived. Numerical results in a IEEE 802.15.4a scenario show that the AWGN receiver with local power estimate provides a performance comparable to the best existing techniques, while requiring a much lower computational complexity. The joint optimization of demodulation and decoding provides a further gain, especially at low packet error rates, at the cost of an additional signal processing effort. Still, low complexity solutions holding the performance gap are identified in this latter class.