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The fast and accurate timing acquisition of short ultra-wideband (UWB) pulse shapes and, implicitly, the required high sampling rates play a significant role in UWB receiver-structure design and create challenges for signal acquisition under non-ideal conditions. Furthermore, the pulse shape is seen as one of the key factors influencing the performance of UWB systems. While fulfilling the power-spectral-density emission requirements, the pulse shape must offer the highest detection capabilities with suitable levels of accuracy. In this paper, a fast acquisition system for UWB wireless multiple-access communications is presented. The proposed acquisition system has explicit design characteristics that offer greatly improved acquisition time, accuracy, and implementation cost, while also yielding very satisfactory performance at high noise and multi-user interference levels. In addition, the impact of pulse shapes on the performance of this fast acquisition system is evaluated to determine the most suitable pulse shape for its implementation.