but I get the feeling that the customer in this case was not as savvy as he perhaps ought to have been.
I tend to agree, as a 'village' receiving 18Mbps ADSL wouldn't be targeted by the BDUK project.
However, assuming the speeds quoted in the article are correct (18Mbps for ADSL, 18Mbps for VDSL). Using the FTTC/distance graph ( http://www.increasebroadbandspeed.co.uk/2013/chart-bt-fttc-vdsl2-speed-against-distance )
it would seem he is potentially 1.8km from his street cabinet (assuming normal levels of line attentuation etc.). Looking at the ADSL/Distance graph ( http://www.increasebroadbandspeed.co.uk/2012/graph-ADSL-speed-versus-distance ) we see that his distance from the exchange is about 1.8km. Which would tend to indicate that his street cabinet is adjacent to the exchange.
So it would seem what this particular customer was wanting (expecting?) was FTTP, which most probably isn't available in his area.