When I lived in NY in a 100 year old house, we used to have meter readers who would come by on a bi-monthly basis.
All the meters were inside the basement of the house, none were placed outside.
On a bi-monthly basis we would send back a postcard with readings for the gas meter, and water meter.
If we did not send in those cards, they would "estimate" the billing usually in their favor.
When I moved to Texas, and worked for a water plant we had "Radio Reads" for the meters. A guy would drive a truck around down each city street, and collect readings via radio signal, using a windows xp computer, that would write the data to a USB stick, that would get uploaded to a server manually for a billing.
This system was gotten rid of about 5 years ago, they went to a LAN based system to submit readings. This allowed the public to get an app on their phone to monitor usage in real time.
There is no difference between smart meters and old meters as terms of you bill. Actually the smart meter may alert you of a usage issue before the monthly bill comes out so you can correct the issue.