The new year is here and Christmas seems like a distant memory (although my waistline is still expansive enough to remind me). By any account it’s going to be a busy year in the wireless sector. 2011 kicks off this week with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the annual funfair at which vendors display their latest gadgets and analysts predict what’s hot and what’s not. Among the 3D-TVs, HD cameras and tablet PCs, carriers and vendors including Verizon and Sierra Wireless are aggressively pushing machine-to-machine (M2M) devices and services for connecting vehicles — so much so, CES is quickly beginning to look like a car show. The advent of 4G (covered in previous editions of “Unwired”) makes streaming video to and from vehicles a reality; OnStar has introduced a solution for vehicles to do exactly that. CES and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February are the usual venues for mobile operators to show their latest handsets, and this year it’s going to be all about 4G-enabled smartphones. According to Gartner, worldwide smartphone sales grew 96 percent in Q3 2010 over the same period in the prior year, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the 417 million phones sold globally. This surge in sales is due in part to their high-resolution screens and cameras, GPS, multimedia and the extraordinary range of apps available — a key driver behind the ascent of Apple and Android, and the rapid decline of Blackberry-maker Research in Motion. New 4G LTE and WiMAX handsets will be capable of real-world download speeds in excess of 5Mbps, and 1Mbps or more on the uplink, bringing a new level of performance to mobile devices.