Reliable transmission over an error-prone channel is typically accomplished via channel coding or retransmission of the lost information. In this paper, we investigate a joint network-channel coding technique to increase the bandwidth efficiency of wireless networks. In particular, we show that the proposed joint network-channel coding approach which combines the recent network coding (NC) concept with the traditional forward error correction (FEC) technique, can increase the bandwidth efficiency in single-hop wireless networks such as WLAN or WiMAX networks. We present some analytical results on the bandwidth efficiency for both broadcast and unicast scenarios. Based on these theoretical results, we provide a heuristic algorithm that dynamically selects the optimal level of FEC to be used with network coding technique for given channel conditions. For typical channel characteristics, both simulations and theoretical results confirm that the proposed joint network channel coding approach can reduce the bandwidth usage up to five times over the automatic repeat request (ARQ) technique and up to two times over the HARQ technique.