A flexible multi-rate communications system (100). It supports a plurality of distributed user terminals (104-106) in full-duplex simultaneous communications with a central base station (102), where each user terminal is provided on demand with one of multiple bit rates at a negotiated quality of service (QOS). In one embodiment of this system (100), each user is assigned a variable bit rate, a variable processing gain, a variable transmit power, and a unique fixed rate spreading code. This results in a constant bandwidth signal received at a relative power level corresponding to the negotiated QOS. The above embodiment can be implemented in Frequency Division Duplexing and Time Division Duplexing configurations. This system (100) can be used in wireless local loop, mobile cellular, and wireless multimedia access systems.