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The wide choices of deployment parameters in next generation wireless communication systems, such as flexible bandwidth allocation, synchronous/ asynchronous modes, FDD/TDD, full/half duplex, and configurable cyclic prefix duration, etc., present significant challenges in preamble and system acquisition design. This article addresses these challenges, as well as the solutions provided by the next generation wireless standards, such as the IEEE 802.20 Mobile Broadband Wireless Access (MBWA) standard and the 3GPP LTE standard. The design facilitates the maximal flexibility of the system configuration and yet has low overhead, low acquisition latency, and low complexity. System acquisition and determination techniques are also discussed in detail.