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We develop an alternate characterization of the statistical distribution of the inter-cell interference power observed in the uplink of CDMA systems. We show that the lognormal distribution better matches the cumulative distribution and complementary cumulative distribution functions of the uplink interference than the conventionally assumed Gaussian distribution and variants based on it. This is in spite of the fact that many users together contribute to uplink interference, with the number of users and their locations both being random. Our observations hold even in the presence of power control and cell selection, which have hitherto been used to justify the Gaussian distribution approximation. The parameters of the lognormal are obtained by matching moments, for which detailed analytical expressions that incorporate wireless propagation, cellular layout, power control, and cell selection parameters are developed. The moment-matched lognormal model, while not perfect, is an order of magnitude better in modeling the interference power distribution.