Open Search Partner with DCC

How do smart meters send readings?

The digital spine of Britain's energy system

We’re working alongside our partners to make Britain more connected, so we can all lead smarter, greener lives. There are millions of smart meters connected to the DCC’s secure network, bringing consumers and energy suppliers closer to their data. But how do smart meters work? How do they send readings? Who can access the data?

Step by step

How smart meters send data to energy suppliers

Using energy in your home

Every time energy is used or generated in a home with a smart meter, it is turned into a packet of data. The data is securely wrapped, using two layers of encryption, and a communications hub creates a home area network to receive it.

What is a communications hub?
home area network
in-home display

From your home to the DCC

The communications hub transmits the data to an in-home display which shows how much energy is being used or sold back to the grid. Your smart meter readings are then transmitted from the home to a wide area network (made up of mobile phone or radio masts), and from these to the DCC servers.

Our secure digital highway

Our Security and Technical Operations Centre is the nerve centre of the DCC network. Here our team continually monitor the performance, resilience, speed and security of the network. The DCC network never sees or keeps the data, it transports it securely straight to the energy supplier. They decrypt the data and use it to bill consumers accurately.

operations centre

What messages are sent across the smart meter network?

The DCC network supports almost 150 different types of messages, including service requests and alerts. Some of the most common messages include:



The prepayment service allows end consumers to add credit to their meters through an over-the-air top-up over our network, keeping the lights on for millions of people. This service is the most critical that DCC provides, supporting some of the most vulnerable consumers in the country.

Install and commission

Install and commission

The install and commission service allows new smart meters to be installed within homes and then join the DCC network. This provides the end consumer with full smart functionality and the benefits that come with that.

Change of supplier

Change of energy supplier

For smart meters on the DCC network there is full interoperability between energy suppliers meaning the meter does not need to be replaced when switched. The Change of Supplier service allows fast, simple switching between energy suppliers for end consumers.

Meter reads

Meter reads

The most utilised message on the DCC network is meter reads allowing energy suppliers to remotely read energy usage and remove the need for a regular house visit or manual meter readings by consumers. The service provides frequent, accurate billing of energy at the time of use and is one of the main benefits of having a smart meter.



The firmware service allows for remote upgrades of meters unlocking new functionality and benefits as innovation is created.

Smart meter data defined

At the simplest level, smart meter data is commonly described as either ‘message contents’ or ‘system data’. A letter sent by post provides a useful analogy to explain the difference.

The letter

The message content sent to or from devices connected to the system within premises, eg the amount of energy consumed (consumption data) or amount added to a prepayment meter.


The envelope

System data or information about the message, eg where it was sent and to which device, at what time and whether it arrived safely.

smart meter

SMETS1 and SMETS2 smart meters

What are SMETS1 smart meters and how are they different from SMETS2 meters?

Find out more
in-home display

Your smart meter in-home display

What is an in-home display and how can you use it to understand your energy usage?

Find out more

Protecting data on the smart meter network

The smart meter network, designed with security at its core, operates entirely separately from the potential pitfalls of the public internet and operates to security levels endorsed by the National Cyber Security Centre, part of GCHQ.

Find out more
data privacy

Smart Energy GB

Smart Energy GB is the not-for-profit campaign helping everyone in Britain understand the importance of smart meters and their benefits to people and the environment.

Learn more about smart meter data access and privacy