A method and apparatus for carrying out synchronous co-division multiple access (SCDMA) communication of multiple channels of digital data over a shared transmission media such as a cable television system coaxial cable, a fiber optic or copper conductor telephone link, terrestial microwave, satellite link, local or wide area network, wireless including cellur network or some combination of these media using suitable interface circuitry. The system includes modems at remote units and a central unit to receive time division multiplexed digital data arranged into timeslots or channels and uses orthogonal codes to encode each channel of multiple data and spread the energy of each channel data over a frame of data transmitted in the code domain. Spreading the data this way makes the system less susceptible to impulse noise. Frames are synchronized as between remote and central units using a ranging scheme which is also useful in any other system transmitting data by frames in a distributed system where synchronizing the frames as between all units regardless of differences in propagation delays is necessary. Each frame in the SCDMA modulation scheme includes a gap or guardband containing no other data. The ranging process involves training each remote unit to impose enough delay prior to re-transmission of a barker code received from the CU such that a barker code sent by the RU arrives at the CU during the gap. The process of setting the delay in each RU is a trial and error process, and each RU starts the ranging process asynchronously. Contention resolution protocols such that only one RU is aligning to the gap at any particular time are taught.