A while back Verizon (formerly Bell Atlantic and Nynex NY Telephone et al) acquired GTE -- General Telephone & Electronics local phone companies. GTE was the biggest of the "independents", that is, local telephone companies not affiliated with the Bell System.
I was wondering how well the integration of GTE into Verizon was working.
The former Bell System was heavilly standardized, down to the pens on desktops. Most equipment came from Western Electric and usually (though not always) was the same throughout the country. By equipment I mean switchgear, carrier technology, and local loop plant (and pay phones). Also, business practices were somewhat consistent, such as rate plans and service representative styles.
In contrast, I don't know how much GTE was standardized. For one thing, GTE was made up of smaller local independent companies acquired or traded over the years. In the 1970s, many local companies "swapped" exchanges so as to give each other contiguous areas instead of a patchwork for more efficiency.
GTE owned a supplier, Automatic Electric. However, I wonder if GTE was so strictly wedded to AE as was Bell to Western. In other words, over the years perhaps equipment from other suppliers was used as well. My impression was that GTE was always more "informal" and less rigid than the Bell System in doing things. (Just as Remington Rand/Sperry Univac was much more informal than IBM in the computer industry).
A key difference between Bell and GTE was that overall GTE (and the other independents) tended to serve much less densely populated areas. A map of Pennsylvania shows half the land mass of the state served by "independents" yet the vast majority of phones were under Bell control. Historically, Bell gained control of the cities and nearby suburbs while the independents were generally left with the rural areas (there are some exceptions). I wonder if this characteristic has impacted the merger.
Merging two dis-similar organizations can bring down both if not done carefully. The Penn Central Railroad is the classic example of how not to do a merger. In more recent years, megarailroad and airline mergers have had troubles too.[public replies, please]