Second-generation smart meters pass 3 million mark

29/11/2019
The Data Communications Company (DCC) has confirmed that the 3 millionth second-generation smart meter (SMETS2) has been installed onto its smart, secure network. The 3 millionth meter was installed on the afternoon of Friday 29th November by British Gas in Mickleover, Derby.

This growth in connected devices has driven up the data being securely transferred. More than half-a-billion encrypted messages to and from smart meters have been carried by the DCC’s secure network this year. October alone saw more than 86 million messages.

That equates to just over 28 messages a month for each meter installed, which illustrates the efficiency of the network. Communication efficiency will be very important as the network grows on a nationwide scale; it will also allow the network to retain capacity for new features or re-use.

With each meter producing hundreds of points of data each month, these messages will inform the deployment of renewables and load balancing technology, creating a greener grid.

At scale, the DCC network will provide greater reach than mobile phones, digital terrestrial TV and superfast broadband, bringing the benefits of smart metering to 30m homes and small businesses.

The Chief Executive of DCC, Angus Flett, said:

“At 3 million second-generation meters our nationwide network continues to grow at pace, tripling in size in little more than six months. Credit is due to everyone involved in the smart meter roll-out – this is a huge collective effort to digitise Britain’s energy network.

“We’ve also seen traffic volume increase, with over half-a-billion messages securely travelling over the network so far this year. That proves the robustness of our network, and its expanding potential.

“Our network is a platform for good, and the data flowing across it is paving the way for better use of renewable energy. The DCC is making Britain more connected so we can all lead smarter, greener lives.”

The vast majority (about 60%) of these messages are the daily bursts of readings given by each meter. Though SMETS2 meters record information about energy consumption all day, many will send 24hrs or more of readings in one package across the network, saving battery power in the home and preserving capacity on the network.

Given the multiple levels of security and privacy afforded by the DCC network, it is no surprise that security related messages make up another large part of the network traffic. For example, new virtual security “keys” are exchanged whenever a consumer switches supplier to keep usage details private. There are also a variety of messages that are required to install and connect new meters securely to the network.

Other messages include tariff changes, firmware updates, topping-up data relating to pre-payment meters, settings changes, and alerts for issues. Many other functions could be added to meters to increase further their value to smart homes across the country.

The DCC is mandated in its licence to enable re-use of this national IT infrastructure.  Energy companies and network operators who are DCC customers can request to add new, unique features via a bespoke elective communications services process.

Today’s roll-out milestone would not have been achieved without the hard work of DCC’s customers -- the energy companies and network operators. Also key to this work are our principal service providers, CGI, Telefonica, Arqiva, Critical Software and BT.