This paper considers the optimum single cell power control maximizing the aggregate (uplink) communication rate of the cell when there are peak power constraints at mobile users, and a low-complexity data decoder (without successive decoding) at the base station. It is shown that the optimum power allocation is binary, which means that links are either “on” or “off.” By exploiting further structure of the optimum binary power allocation, a simple polynomial-time algorithm for finding the optimum transmission power allocation is proposed, together with a reduced complexity near-optimal heuristic algorithm. Sufficient conditions under which channel-state aware time division multiple access (TDMA) maximizes the aggregate communication rate are established. In a numerical study, we compare and contrast the performance achieved by the optimum binary power-control policy with other suboptimum policies and the throughput capacity achievable via successive decoding. It is observed that two dominant modes of communication arise, wideband or TDMA, and that successive decoding achieves better sum-rates only under near perfect interference cancellation efficiency. In this paper, we exploit the theory of majorization to obtain the aforementioned results. In the final part of this paper, we do so to solve power-control problems in the areas of femtocells and cognitive radio and find that, again, optimal solutions have a binary (or almost binary) character.