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The design of an efficient MAC protocol is of paramount interest for the definition of a wireless ATM (WATM) access. In the case of TDMA-TDD WATM access, the current trend in the standardization bodies is to adopt frames of fixed duration, whose slots are shared among uplink and downlink connections under the control of a MAC scheduler located in the base station. In this paper, we first compare polling and contention techniques, in order to identify the best access scheme to serve ATM connections. Then, since the knowledge of the queue status of the portable terminals can be used by the centralized scheduler to increase the efficiency of the slot assignment procedure, we propose different algorithms to code the buffer occupancy status. Moreover, we compare their performance by considering two different scenarios; the first loaded with ON-OFF sources served by nrt-VBR ATM connections, and the second with TCP/IP sources served by UBR ATM connections. The results show the superiority of the contention access and the advantages of the buffer status notification for the scheduler at the base station.