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In a distributed control multi-hop wireless ad hoc network, multi-user interference plays a significant role in determining the network performance. Although the effects of hidden/exposed terminals on the system throughput in wireless ad hoc networks have been extensively studied, the multi-user interference power computation without as well as with distributed power control and their effects on the network level performance have not been analysed in the literature. In this study, via probabilistic analysis the authors capture the total interference power that a receiver node experiences for fixed power transmissions as well as variable power transmissions. The authors demonstrate the impact of interference on the effective communication range of the nodes. Subsequently, the authors study the joint impact of interference, power control, and different forwarding strategies on the network lifetime. They propose two variants of forwarding protocols, power controlled nearest forward (PCN) and network lifetime extending PCN (E-PCN), which are interference aware and offer network lifetime maximisation in power controlled transmission scenarios. The numerical results on random static network performance are verified by MATLAB as well as NS-2-based network simulations. The results show that the proposed protocols outperform the existing ones in terms of network lifetime.