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We introduce a fast fell-search scheme based on the distributed sample acquisition (DSA) technique for inter-cell asynchronous DS/CDMA systems. The proposed DSA scheme enables the long-code acquisition extremely fast even without employing any passive matched filter which used to dominate synchronization circuit complexity in asynchronous DS/CDMA systems. In the DSA-based asynchronous DS/CDMA system, each base station spreads its DQPSK-modulated long-code generator information with an assigned short-period igniter sequence, and broadcasts it as a common pilot signal. A mobile station first identifies and acquires the igniter sequence of the cell group currently located, then detects the conveyed long-code generator information by despreading the acquired igniter sequence, thereby identifying and synchronizing the long-code of the current cell. The mean acquisition time of this proposed DSA-based inter-cell asynchronous DS/CDMA system, evaluated under the assumption that each of 512 cell-specific long-codes is a 10-ms segment (38400-chips for the chip rates of 3.84 Mchips/s) of complex Gold codes of period 2/sup 18/-1 and the igniter sequence (or, group code) set is composed of 7 complex orthogonal Gold codes of period 256, turned out even shorter than that of the inter-cell synchronous DS/CDMA systems employing the conventional serial search method. Furthermore, simulation results showed that the DSA scheme employing a passive matched filter is much superior in terms of acquisition time and robustness, to the 3GPP W-CDMA synchronization scheme having comparable complexity.