Shares in EchoStar Communications Corp jumped more than 11 percent before retreating on Wednesday as investors speculated further on the possibility the satellite operator might sell its DISH pay-TV network.

Market talk has been mounting that EchoStar, the No. 2 U.S. satellite TV operator, will put DISH up for sale after it said last week that it may spin off its technology and wholesale satellite businesses into a new publicly traded company.

Several industry watchers believe telephone operator AT&T Inc will most likely buy the DISH network to better compete with cable TV operators in offering video services.

There also has been speculation that DirecTV Group, EchoStar's larger rival, might try and merge with it.

AT&T has its own advanced digital TV network called U-Verse.

There's a general recognition internally at AT&T that their U-Verse solution doesn't work, said Todd Mitchell, an analyst at Kaufman Bros. The marketing guys want to buy


Shares in EchoStar have risen 12 percent since its announcement last week. By midday Wednesday, the stock was up $1.78 at $48.55, or 3.8 percent, after hitting a year high of $52.15.

AT&T fell 37 cents to $42.04. DirecTV rose 22 cents to $24.69.

(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke, editing by Brian Moss)