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An asymptotic analysis tool, based on the results of Tse and Hanly (see IEEE Trans. Inform. Theory, vol.45, no.2, p.641-57, 1999) and allowing the analysis and design of CDMA systems with limited computer simulation, is described. As an example of application, some aspects of system design for a UMTS personal-communication satellite system are presented. Specifically, the tradeoffs involved in the allocation of available bandwidth between spreading and coding, the selection of modulation schemes, and the selection of multi-rate formats for the uplink channel are considered.