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Network coding can deliver multiple data streams simultaneously and make full use of broadcast nature of wireless channels. The authors propose two diversity-enabled network-coding (NC) schemes to optimise wireless uplink scheduling. The existing scheduling protocols normally have to allow the users with relatively low channel gains to transmit, and it can maintain fairness but reduce congregated throughput. The main idea of the proposed scheme is to always schedule users with the best channel condition, while the use of NC encourages the scheduled users to help others which have not been served previously. Delay and capacity performance for different network coded scheduling schemes are analysed. Round-robin and pure opportunistic scheduling are evaluated for performance comparison. In order to show the effectiveness of the proposed schemes, NC schedulers are applied to a time division duplexing code division multiple access wireless cellular networks. System-level simulation was carried out based on the third generation partnership project specifications. Per-sector average throughput and cumulative distribution function of user average throughput are adopted as the performance metrics. Analytical and simulation results show that the proposed NC schedulers can achieve a better tradeoff between fairness and throughput than those without NC.