Aqwastream® began its business with a mission: to reduce the number of plastic water bottles thrown away in the U.S and Canada. Its first step was to provide high-tech, industry-sponsored stations that dispense free drinking water on the campus of Arizona State University. To manage the stations, Aqwastream needed a way to provide virtually uninterrupted wireless connectivity to the unit it installed in the Sun Devil Fitness Complex on the college’s Tempe, AZ campus. After conducting competitive research and seeking advice from its carrier partners, Aqwastream chose Cradlepoint.


Based in Scottsdale, Arizona, Aqwastream was founded on the premise that fresh water is a human right and that it was time to upgrade the age-old water cooler concept where people gather to learn and exchange information. But fresh, free, filtered water cannot be provided for free. Aqwastream’s financial model is to offer companies the opportunity to place their brand message on Aqwastream’s water distribution stations, each of which is known as an “ARIS” (Aqwastream Refill Information Station). The company started its business on university campuses, and plans to expand to corporate campuses.


The Aqwastream ARIS is not your everyday bottle filler. Each station is equipped with a 32-inch monitor on which school information and corporate environmental videos are played to attract and inform students. The ARIS stations also have 7-inch screens that interact with students, providing them with changing messages and tallying, in real time, the number of plastic bottles the students have effectively diverted from landfills by using the Aqwastream stations. Built into each ARIS is an integrated circuit that gathers information and intelligence about the stations and anonymous data on viewers of the ARIS media. The video screens, the circuit, and the company’s success depend on the ARIS having a continuous network connection.


Aqwastream co-founder and CTO Steve Owst and his team chose Cradlepoint COR Series routing platforms to connect the ARIS stations to their network. The team also implemented Cradlepoint NetCloud Manager so they have the capacity to manage multiple ARIS stations on campuses around the country.

"The Cradlepoint name kept coming up in discussions with our carrier partners, including Telus in Canada and Verizon in the U.S. We evaluated Cradlepoint and a number of other companies in terms of features, functionality, and price. After evaluating the results and factoring in what our partners had said, we chose Cradlepoint."


Constant Connection: Built into each ARIS is a custom designed integrated circuit that along with the built in computer performs a number of business-critical functions. It gathers anonymous video analytics, translates the volume of water dispensed into the number of plastic bottles saved, reports the temperature of the water being dispensed from the station, monitors each station’s water filtration system, and in the case of leak detection, triggers an automatic water shut off and immediate service email notification. The integrated circuit is critical to the company’s ability to run the ARIS itself, as well as to collect data that helps the company market to potential sponsors. For the circuit to deliver its intended value, it must be in constant contact with the network.

"If sensors on the floor of each ARIS detect a leak, they’ll shut off the water supply and send an alert to our central server through the Cradlepoint modem. We send a message back to the station’s 7-inch screen to notify users that the ARIS is out of order and will be repaired shortly. This kind of interaction depends on us having virtually no downtime; and that’s been the case with Cradlepoint.”

Network-Use Monitoring: In his previous positions, Owst experienced the sting of getting huge penalties for exceeding data limits. By giving him constant readings on the amount of data each ARIS is using, Cradlepoint NetCloud Manager helps him avoid these all-too-familiar cost overruns.

"With Cradlepoint NetCloud Manager I’m able to monitor and set limits on each station’s data usage. If an ARIS approaches that limit, NetCloud Manager will send out an alert, and stop the ARIS from exceeding the limit. Given the high cost of data, our ability to control data usage before it becomes a problem was a key factor in our decision to choose Cradlepoint.”

Customer Service: Like so many startup companies, Aqwastream does not yet have the in-house staff to address the million-and-one technical questions that can arise every day. Even though Aqwastream is still a relatively small company, Owst is impressed by the level of technical service and support his company gets from Cradlepoint.

"Cradlepoint is driven by a forward-thinking service team that shares our vision of growth. We’ve been treated with mutual respect, right off the bat. Cradlepoint assigned a systems engineer to work with us who responds to our questions almost immediately. The same is true for their sales and marketing support. Cradlepoint has really made us feel like we’re a valued partner.”

Not a Vendor, A Partner: Aqwastream’s expansion plans require relationships with industry leaders who are ready to help scale the business as it expands to thousands of its sophisticated water stations. This includes continual integration of the most appropriate new technology.

“We didn’t want to just buy Cradlepoint modems over the Internet. We want to involve personal talent from each company itself. Our point of view is that in order for us to grow, we have to develop relationships with our key vendors. The way we’ve been treated by Cradlepoint, at every level we’ve engaged with them, makes us feel like they’ll be a great long-term partner and share our growth.”