A cellular communications system is provided having both surface and satellite nodes which are fully integrated for providing service over large areas. A spread spectrum system is used with code division multiple access (CDMA) employing forward error correction coding (FECC) to enhance the effective gain and selectivity of the system. Multiple beam, relatively high gain antennas are disposed in the satellite nodes to establish the satellite cells, and by coupling the extra gain obtained with FECC to the high gain satellite node antennas, enough gain is created in the satellite part of the system such that a user need only use a small, mobile handset with a non-directional antenna for communications with both ground nodes and satellite nodes. User position information is also available. A digital data interleaving feature reduces fading.