Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, is open to the prospect of reducing the number of major nationwide wireless carriers from four to three.

During a Q&A session Friday following a speech at the American Enterprise Institute about his first 100 days as chairman, Pai was asked whether he would consider cutting the number of the four biggest carriers, which include Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint, in order to boost competition.

"My approach to the regulatory role is one of humility," Pai responded.

"I don't claim to know in a vacuum what the optimal market structure of any particular marketplace is. What the right," Pai said while making air quotes with his hands, "number of competitors should be."

He explained that the FCC's goal is to ensure the marketplace benefits public interest — a standard which evaluates impact on both competition and consumers, including whether prices are going down and application and service innovation goes up.

"That's the framework I'm going to apply going forward," Pai said.